JACKSONVILLE – Backed by its 13-win regular season and five-match unbeaten streak, the third-seeded FGCU women’s tennis team enters the 2014 Atlantic Sun Championship ready to continue its most successful campaign in program history beginning with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 6 Lipscomb on Thursday at 5 p.m. at the North Florida Tennis Complex.
Sitting with a program-record six wins in conference play and an overall mark of 13-7, the Eagles will look to collect their sixth-straight win and advance to at least the championship semifinals for the second year, while Lipscomb (10-10, 3-5 A-Sun) looks to snap a six-match losing streak in postseason play and redeem the 6-1 defeat it suffered to FGCU earlier this season. The winner will take on second-seeded ETSU (12-8, 7-1 A-Sun) in the semifinals on Friday at 5 p.m.
“This weekend is what we’ve been preparing for since the fall,” head coach Courtney Vernon said. “The girls have been training hard during our short break from competition and are ready for this weekend.”
SEASON OF SUCCESS
With six wins and a pair of losses, FGCU ended the regular season listed third in the A-Sun standings, the highest in program history. After opening conference play with a 6-1 loss at ETSU, the Eagles rebounded in dominant fashion beating USC Upstate, 7-0, and Stetson, 5-2, before falling, 5-2, to UNF. In their last four matched the Green and Blue saw near-perfect performances, shutting out Mercer, 7-0, soaring past Lipscomb and Kennesaw state, 6-1, and ousting Northern Kentucky, 5-2. Leading the team in doubles play, with a record of 12-6 (6-2 A-Sun), are partners Bettina Botha (Cape Town, South Africa/De Kuilen HS) and Johanna Sterkel (Schwetzingen, Germany/Carl-Theodor-Schule HS), while Candela Munoz’s (Alicante, Spain/Troy) mark of 16-2 (7-1 A-Sun) in singles play is the best in the conference.
While they’ve yet to complete a full season for the Green and Blue, team newcomers Munoz and Breana Stampfli (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago/St. Joseph’s Convent) have already etched their mark in FGCU history. After proving to be vital factors in the team’s success, Munoz was selected to the A-Sun All-Conference First Team, while Stampfli was named Freshman of the Year and to the All-Conference Second Team.
Playing the No. 4 slot in each of the eight matches, Munoz went a near-perfect 7-1 against A-Sun competition. With an overall record of 16-2, she leads the conference in wins and boasts an outstanding winning percentage of .888. Equally as impressive as her record was her ability to oust six A-Sun opponents in straight sets and hold each of the eight to a scoring average of just 2 games per set. Playing two singles, Stampfli went an impressive 6-2 in conference play and 12-7 overall. Her talents were also demonstrated in doubles play, as she helped the Eagles to seven wins in the third position.
With an overall mark of 10-10 (3-5 A-Sun), Lipscomb enters the match against FGCU looking to claim its first-ever win over FGCU. With the Eagles holding a 7-0 all-time advantage over the Lady Bisons, the last meeting between the two saw a 6-1 win by FGCU, in what was the Eagles last match on the 2014 regular season. In each of the 7 meetings the Lady Bisons have never taken more than two points from FGCU, and have scored just eight total in the seven-year history, compared to FGCU’s 39.
Live stats are available for every match in the A-Sun Championship. Just log on to www.ATLANTICSUN.org or www.FGCUATHLETICS.com for the links along with a preview stories leading into each day. Fans are encouraged to use the hashtag #ASunWTen on twitter during the weekend action. For complete coverage of FGCU women’s tennis, follow us on Twitter @FGCU_WTEN and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com where full recaps and results will be available at the end of each day.