UTC ends the year with an 11-11 overall record, its first .500 finish since 2003. Chattanooga was the fifth seed in the tournament after posting a 6-4 mark in league play during the regular season. That was the most SoCon wins for the Lady Mocs since going 6-4 in 2004.
"It is always disappointing when you don't win, but that being said, we did everything we could to get the win," stated Head Coach Jeff Clark. "You play four-and-half hours and it comes down to three, three-set matches. We gave ourselves a chance to win and that is all you can ask."
Today's contest was a rematch from Samford's 6-1 victory on the UTC Tennis Courts last week. The Bulldogs swept all three doubles matches in the first meeting, but Chattanooga came out determined to set the pace today.
"Our team learned something from the last time we played them," continued Clark. "We believed that we could win. We went for the win today and came up just a little short."
The Lady Mocs quickly jumped ahead in all three doubles. Junior Emily Hangstefer (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and Alexa Flynn (Memphis, Tenn.) grabbed the first match with an 8-4 triumph at No. 2. Junior Shaina Singh (Vancouver, B.C.) and sophomore Jenna Nurik (Roswell, Ga.) closed out the opening point with a 9-7 win at No. 1. Singh and Nurik improved to 20-8 in doubles action overall and 15-6 in spring duals.
With the 1-0 lead, Chattanooga needed to take three of the six singles matches for the win. Nurik, Flynn and senior Annie Green (Alpharetta, Ga.) all won their first sets to keep the momentum going. Samford went ahead 2-1 with wins at No. 5 and No. 3.
UTC evened the match at 2-2 when Nurik posted a (6-3, 6-2) win over Taylor Morgan at No. 1. She improved to 18-4 overall and 13-9 at No. 1 singles. Singh forced a third set in her match at No. 4 while both Green and Flynn dropped their second sets.
Flynn was trying to avenge a (6-4, 6-4) loss to Andrie Meiring in the first meeting, but could not hold off a late rally. Meiring came back to win the match (5-7, 6-4, 6-2). Singh also fell to Kristin Lewis (6-2, 6-2) last week, but was fighting hard today. She was in a third-set tiebreaker with Lewis when the Bulldogs closed out the contest.
The deciding match came at No. 6 between Green and Lindsey Mallory. Green was playing singles for the first time since March 5 and started battling cramps early in the second set. She competed as long as she could but eventually fell (4-6, 7-5, 6-0).
"Two years ago we were playing the quarterfinals and lost in about two hours," said Clark. "To come out here today and be right in the match, shows that we deserve to be in the top third of the conference and that is where we want to be. Chattanooga has a great tradition in women's tennis and I think our girls understand that and want to live up to that."
UTC only loses two seniors from this year's squad in Green and Grace Robinette (Chattanooga, Tenn.). The Lady Mocs return five of their six singles starters and will field a lineup that includes three seniors and a junior next season.
Samford 4, Chattanooga 2
Apr 21, 2011 at Chattanooga, Tenn. (Champions Club)
1. Jenna Nurik/Shaina Singh (UTC) def. Taylor Morgan/Lindsey Mallory (SAM) - 9-7
2. Alexa Flynn/Emily Hangstefer (UTC) def. Andrie Meiring/Rebecca Kirven (SAM) - 8-4
3. M.Janse van Rensburg/Jessica Diamond (SAM) vs. Annie Green/Grace Robinette (UTC) - 6-7, unfinished
1. Jenna Nurik (UTC) def. Taylor Morgan (SAM) - 6-3, 6-2
2. Andrie Meiring (SAM) def. Alexa Flynn (UTC) - 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
3. M.Janse van Rensburg (SAM) def. Emily Hangstefer (UTC) - 6-2, 6-3
4. Kristin Lewis (SAM) vs. Shaina Singh (UTC) - 6-3, 5-7, 6-6, unfinished
5. Rebecca Kirven (SAM) def. Charlotte Bossy (UTC) - 6-2, 6-1
6. Lindsey Mallory (SAM) def. Annie Green (UTC) - 4-6, 7-5, 6-0