Athens, GA – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s tennis team’s thrilling season came to an end, Saturday, May 4th at the Magill Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Georgia, as the Governors fell to No. 22 Wake Forest, 4-0, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
But the score doesn’t indicate how competitive the matches were, nor does it diminish the accomplishments the team achieved this season.
The Govs entered the regional with an unblemished 22-0 record, trophies as the Ohio Valley Conference’s regular season and tournament champions, the OVC Coach of the Year, Ross Brown, and five All-OVC selections.
They came up against a Wake Forest program playing in the ‘Big Dance’ for the fourth consecutive season and had played 33 prior NCAA Tournament matches.
The Demon Deacons featured two ranked doubles pairings and the No. 35 singles player, Emma Davis.
Despite the rankings and recent Tournament success Wake Forest entered with, the Govs did not flinch or come out intimidated: they battled right from the get-go.
The Deacons secured the first point of the match after winning doubles matches at the No. 1 and 2 courts, though Danielle Morris and Fabienne Schmidt led their match on the third court, 4-3, jumping out to the lead in the first game.
Morris also had an impressive showing in singles play on Court Six, securing the Govs’ first set victory, 6-3, and was locked in a tight second set, 6-6, and leading the tiebreaker 1-0 when the Deacons took the decisive fourth point.
Lidia Yanes Garcia at No. 2 singles also came out strong, edging out a nail-biter first set victory, 7-6 (7-4), and was tied 2-2 in the second set at the conclusion of the dual. Not long after Yanes Garcia won her set, Schmidt at No. 4 came up just short in a wild back-and-forth affair in the first set, falling in extras, 6-7, (6-8), to the Deacon’s Saby Nihalani.
Wake Forest secured its second point of the dual when Chandler Carter defeated Helena Kuppig, 6-1, 6-2 at No. 5, and then picked up its third point after Eliza Omirou defeated Tatiana Lopez, 6-2, 6-1.
The Governors looked like they might pick up the program’s first point in NCAA Tournament play, but it unfortunately did not pan out. However, Brown was happy with the grit and determination the team competed with all morning.
“The end score was 4-0, but we were in a number of matches there that were very, very close,” Brown said. “We won a couple first sets in a couple matches, and were up in the second set in a critical match, but just let it slip away. These women, I just couldn’t be more proud of them, where they’ve come from and what they’ve done.”
The matchup with Wake Forest marked the final matches for seniors Claudia and Lidia Yanes Garcia, two of the most decorated athletes in Austin Peay State University history, and not just in tennis. Their talents and presence – as well as that of fellow senior Kuppig – will be hard to replace, but Brown is encouraged the younger players had the opportunity to play on the biggest stage in collegiate tennis.
“I give credit to our seniors, but what’s encouraging is how well we competed with Fabi (Schmidt) and Danielle,” Brown said. “They’re going to be the core of this team down the road; that’s who were going to build this team around coming back. That performance was great, and it was good to get Honoka (Nakanishi) playing No. 1 doubles some experience like this.
“It’s hard to take when you realize you are in a close fight and you don’t get there, but it’s going to lay the foundation for future success down the road.”
“I’m thankful for (assistant coach) Maria (Sorbello), I’m thankful for the staff that we have here at Austin Peay that put us in a position to be competitive,” Brown said. “It’s a fun thing when you can play a small role in these young ladies’ lives and give them memories they’re going to have for the rest of their lives.”
Austin Peay vs Wake Forest
May 4th, 2019 at Athens, GA
(Dan Magill Tennis Complex)
#22 Wake Forest 4, Austin Peay 0
1. #35 Emma Davis (WF) def. Claudia Yanes Garcia (APSU) 6-1, 7-5
2. Anna Ulyashchenko (WF) vs. Lidia Yanes Garcia (APSU) 6-7 (4-7), 2-2, unfinished
3. Eliza Omirou (WF) def. Tatiana Lopez (APSU) 6-2, 6-1
4. Saby Nihalani (WF) vs. Fabienne Schmidt (APSU) 7-6 (8-6), 1-0, unfinished
5. Chandler Carter (WF) def. Helena Kuppig (APSU) 6-1, 6-2
6. Peyton Pesavento (WF) vs. Danielle Morris (APSU) 3-6, 6-6 (0-1), unfinished
1. #34 Emma Davis/Chandler Carter (WF) def. Tatiana Lopez/Honoka Nakanishi (APSU) 6-1
2. #74 Eliza Omirou/M.C. Meredith (WF) def. Lidia Yanes Garcia/Claudia Yanes Garcia (APSU) 6-1
3. Anna Ulyashchenko/Alexis Franco (WF) vs. Danielle Morris/Fabienne Schmidt (APSU) 3-4, unfinished
Austin Peay 22-1 Wake Forest 21-8
National ranking #22 Order of finish: Doubles (1,2)
NCAA First Round