CLEMSON, SC–The Winthrop women’s tennis team gave Auburn a battle before falling 4-1 in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship at the Hoke Sloan Tennis Center at Clemson on Friday.
The loss ends #58 ranked Winthrop’s season at 18-5 while #29 Auburn improves to 17-10 and will face the winner of the Clemson vs. UNC Wilmington match on Saturday. Winthrop was making its 14th NCAA postseason appearance in the last 16 years.
As Winthrop head coach Cid Carvalho told his team following the match, the Eagles made a bit of history as they picked up their first singles point in a NCAA Regional. “I am so proud of how you competed today,” said Carvalho. “You made history by becoming the first Winthrop team to win a singles point in the NCAA tournament. We did win a doubles point a couple of years ago, but you were able to pick up a singles point and were in position to win more had we been able to continue the match. You have accomplished some very special things this season and you should look back on this season and be proud of the year you had,” he said.
Winthrop fell behind in the match after dropping the doubles point 2-0. Andressa Garcia, who played her final collegiate match, and sophomore Alice Garcia lost at No. 1 doubles to Emily Flickinger and Pleun Burgmans (8-0). Sophomore Tijan Uzelac and freshman Beth Williamson lost at No. 3 to the Auburn team of Michala Kucharova and Paula de Man (8-3). Sophomore Caitlin Cridland and junior Ekin Gunaysu were trailing in their match 6-3 when Auburn clinched the point.
The Eagles came out strong in singles as Andressa Garcia jumped out to an early 4-1 lead over Burgmans at No. 1, but could not hold off the 44th ranked player in the nation as Burgmans battled back to win five straight points to take the first set 6-4 and then captured the deciding point 6-4 in a match that lasted nearly three hours. Gunayse took early control of the No. 5 flight and went on to knock out Jackie Kasler 6-1, 6-1 to earn the historic first singles point for Winthrop.Cridland gave a strong effort at No. 3 as she battled back from an early 4-1 deficit before falling to de Man 7-6 (7-2) in the first set. She was leading 5-2 in the second set when the match was called.
Auburn’s two other points came at No. 2 and No. 6 singles. Alice Garcia lost to Flickinger 6-2, 6-4 at No. 2 while Williamson dropped a 6-0, 6-1 decision to Pfeifler at No. 6. Uzelac gave Kucharova a battle in the first set of their match, losing 7-5 after playing a 40-minute point with the score tied 4-4.