NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's tennis team saw the best season in school history come up just a couple matches short on Friday as they fell by a 4-1 final to regular season Southland Champions No. 46 Stephen F Austin on the Ladyjacks home courts at the Southland Conference Tournament semifinals.
The Islanders finish the year at 16-5 overall, the best year in school history, and they won a program best eight Southland Conference matches during the season. Mirna Cicak won the lone match for the team in the final collegiate match of her career.
"I could talk forever about the character, heart and resiliency of these girls this year," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "These girls were a true team in every sense of the word and showed a ton of character all year.
"They pushed a great SFA team to the limit today, a team that reached the top 40 in DI rankings."
For SFA, it will be their first time in the tournament finals, continuing a year in which they won the regular season Southland Championship, and reached as high as 35 in the ITA National Rankings.
"SFA has had an incredible year, and we battled them toe-to-toe for four hours," said Moore. "But give them credit, at the end they were the better team today."
In doubles, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi fell at No. 2 as Chelsea Horan and Sandra Burges fell by an 8-3 final, while Stefanie Nicolae and Ashley Garza lost an 8-5 match at the No. 3 position. Cicak and Doris Kuselj were leading 8-7 when the No. 1 doubles match was stopped due to the point being clinched.
In singles, several matches were close, but the Islanders were unable to complete a comeback as SFA advanced to the finals. One match was 3-2, and one match was tied 2-2 in the third set when play was stopped.
The first match to finish was No. 6 singles, as a hobbled Mia Matuszak was unable to move well enough to compete like normal, falling 6-1, 6-1 to make it 2-0 SFA. No. 2 singles saw Kuselj fall 6-2, 6-2 to make it a 3-0 score, but Cicak followed with a 6-4, 6-4 final at the No. 1 position to give the Islanders their first point at 3-1. The final point came at No. 4 singles, as Nicolae lost a tough 7-5, 6-2 final to complete play.
"We battled them for every minute on their home courts, and I'm proud of the way these girls competed today and all year long," said Moore. "They finished with the best season in school history because of their heart, and they played every point today with their heart."
Cicak ends her career as one of the winningest Islanders in program history, compiling a 45-29 record, with all but one of those at the No. 1 singles position. She is the only senior on the roster that won the first Southland Conference Tournament game in program history, but was a rock at the top singles position all four years she played, and will be hard to replace, not only for her ability, but for her leadership.
In addition to Cicak, Aurelien Tave and Nathan Robinson won their singles on the final day of their careers, as Tave and Robinson won in straight sets in their singles matches. Alex Pavlov played only doubles in his final match as no senior lost in singles on the final day of the season.
"Our seniors were incredible leaders today, and they gave all their heart like they have all year," said Moore. "This year's group of seniors was a very special group.
"That's the hardest part about this job; you only get kids like these for four years. Those truly special, high-character individuals touched the lives of every teammate they had."
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Tennis Match Results
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs Stephen F. Austin
04/27/2012 at Nacogdoches, Texas
#46 Stephen F. Austin 4, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 1
1. Mirna Cicak (AMCC) def. Elena Kordolaimi (SFA) 6-4, 6-4
2. Alina Shazhko (SFA) def. Doris Kuselj (AMCC) 6-2, 6-2
3. Tereza Bekerova (SFA) vs. Sandra Burges (AMCC) 3-6, 6-3, 3-2, unfinished
4. Malena Gordo (SFA) def. Stefania Nicolae (AMCC) 7-5, 6-2
5. Antonia Kolovou (SFA) vs. Chelsea Horan (AMCC) 5-7, 2-2, unfinished
6. Jithmie Jayawickrema (SFA) def. Mia Matuszak (AMCC) 6-1, 6-1
1. Tereza Bekerova/Malena Gordo (SFA) vs. Mirna Cicak/Doris Kuselj (AMCC) 7-8, unfinished
2. Alina Shazhko/Jithmie Jayawickrema (SFA) def. Chelsea Horan/Sandra Burges (AMCC) 8-3
3. Elena Kordolaimi/Laura Servise (SFA) def. Stefania Nicolae/Ashley Garza (AMCC) 8-5
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 16-5
Stephen F. Austin 22-4; National ranking #46
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (6,2,1,4)
2012 SLC Championships - Semifinals