CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The No. 1 seed Furman women’s tennis team captured the program’s 18th Southern Conference Championship on Sunday, downing No. 2 seed ETSU, 4-1 at McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Paladins will move on to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships via the SoCon’s automatic berth.
ETSU earned the first doubles win of the day with a 6-4 victory at flight three by Alejandra Morales and Andrea Pascual-Larrinaga but Furman responded less than five minutes later with a point at No. 2 doubles, courtesy of a 6-4 win by Katty Weymouth and Danni Vines. The battle at No. 1 doubles proved to be the clincher as Katarina Kozarov and Aryn Green earned a 7-6 (7-4) win over Alory Pereira and Ioanna Markesini to power the Paladins to an early 1-0 lead.
The Bucs evened the match score at 1-1 after Ioanna Markesini earned a 6-2, 6-3 win over Katty Weymouth at the No. 2 spot. Furman then retook the lead after clinching two points just seconds apart. The first came courtesy of a 6-0, 7-5 win by Georgie Walker at the No. 5 spot before Danni Vines gave the Paladins their third point with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 3 singles. Kozarov, the 2018 SoCon Player of the Year, delivered the winning blow for the Paladins as the sophomore earned a 7-5, 6-4 win to clinch the Paladins second consecutive championship.
Back-to-back tournament titles had not been accomplished in the SoCon since College of Charleston’s run of five straight from 2009 to 2013. Furman is also the third school in the last six years to win both the regular season championship and the tournament title in the same season (College of Charleston, 2013, Samford, 2015 and Furman, 2017).
Danni Vines, a native of Elizabethton, Tenn., was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year. Vines was also the recipient of the Pinnacle Award, which is given to the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team.
Court four and six singles did not finish.
Furman (20-8) will now await its draw in the NCAA tournament, which will be announced in two weeks.