MACON, Ga. – No. 1 seed Furman captured the program’s 19th Southern Conference Championship and third consecutive on Saturday, downing No. 2 seed ETSU, 4-2, at the John Drew Smith Tennis Center. The Paladins will move on to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships via the SoCon’s automatic berth.
The Paladins, ranked No. 50 nationally, earned the first doubles win of the day with a 6-4 win at No. 3 by Carol Elizabeth Kerman and Georgie Walker, but ETSU responded minutes later with a point at No. 1, as Laylo Bakhodirova and Alejandra Morales took down Katarina Kozarov and Julia Adams, ranked No. 68 nationally. The battle at No. 2 proved to be the clincher as Furman’s Madison Dillon and Katty Weymouth won 7-6 after winning the tiebreaker 7-4.
Furman extended the lead to 2-0 as Kozarov, ranked No. 78 in singles, earned a 6-2, 6-4 at No. 1. ETSU then got on the board with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 win by Raquel Amaro at No. 4. The Bucs tied it up as Andrea Pascual-Larrinaga downed Adams 6-1, 7-5 in flight No. 3, but Weymouth put Furman ahead 3-2 with a 7-6 (9-7), 7-5 over Morales in the No. 2 spot. Kerman, a sophomore, delivered the winning blow for the Paladins, winning 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 at No. 5 to clinch the match.
Back-to-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.
Kozarov, the SoCon Player of the Year, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Walker was the recipient of the Pinnacle Award, which is given to the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team.
No. 6 singles did not finish, as Walker and ETSU’s Yi Chi Ma had each won a set when the match was clinched.
Furman (26-1) will now await its draw in the NCAA tournament, which will be announced in two weeks.