Tennis Tops WMU 4-0, Advances to Second-Straight MAC Title Match
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AURORA, Ill. – The second-seeded University of Akron tennis team will play for the program's second-straight Mid-American Conference championship on Sunday, following a 4-0 win over third-seeded Western Michigan in Saturday afternoon's semifinal round of the league tournament indoors at Vaughan Athletic Center. The event is being hosted by Northern Illinois.
Today's competition was moved inside due to inclement weather. The tournament winner will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
Akron (23-3), which is the event's defending champion and was playing in the semifinal for the third-consecutive season, will face top-seeded Miami (Ohio) (14-9) in the title match tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET (noon CT). The RedHawks defeated fifth-seeded Bowling Green (10-10) 4-0 in today's other semifinal match.
Sunday's meeting will be a rematch of last year's championship contest in which UA posted a 4-3 comeback win over MU. Miami handed Akron its only league loss this season, a 4-3 decision in Akron on March 23 in the conference schedule opener for both squads. The RedHawks have been regular-season champions each of the last four years and were tournament champions in 2009 and 2010.
"We knew today was going to be a battle, and it was," second-year Akron head coach Brandon Padgett said. "Western came out ready to play, but we matched their intensity, and I am proud of our overall effort. We will be ready for Miami tomorrow."
The Zips earned the doubles point with wins at the first and third flight. All-MAC recipients Zara Harutyunyan and Prang Pantusart were victorious 8-3 at No. 1 over Caroline Aleck and April Kerr, and Angelina Jogasuria and MAC Freshman-of-the-Year honoree Olga Shkundina topped Jill Pastunink and Maggie Remynse at No. 3, 8-3. When the early point was decided, the score at No. 2 was 6-4 in favor of UA's Angelika Jogasuria and Natalia Kuvakina versus Kathleen Hawkins and Maria Nivia.
For the second day in a row, it was Angelina Jogasuria's win at No. 4 singles that clinched match point for the Zips. She topped Hawkins 6-2, 7-6 (3) after Shkundina took care of Remynse 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 and Harutyunyan downed Nina Nini Sujashvili 7-5, 6-0 at No. 1.
Western Michigan (17-11) ended its four-match win streak.
Zips Notebook: Akron and Western Michigan were meeting in the semifinals for the third-straight year ... the Zips downed the Broncos 4-0 in the 2011 semis after WMU defeated UA 4-3 in 2010 ... UA and WMU have been the No. 2 and 3 seeds, respectively, in each of the last three MAC tournaments ... Akron has topped WMU in four-straight and five of the last six meetings in the all-time series, including three-consecutive regular-season wins ... the Zips have won nine of their last 10 overall matches ... UA improved its win streak in the MAC tournament to five, and is now 2-1 all-time when playing in the event's semifinal round ... the Zips improved to 3-0 in neutral court matches this season ... Akron has won the doubles point in 12 of the last 14 matches and 22 times total this year ... the Zips No. 1 doubles pair of Zara Harutyunyan and Prang Pantsusart improved to 21-1 this season ... freshman Olga Shkundina, who turned age 16 in January, improved her record this season versus dual-match singles competition to 23-2 ... Shkundina is 20-2 when playing in the No. 2 singles spot.
(2) Akron 4, (3) Western Michigan 0
1. Zara Harutyunyan/Prang Pantusart (Akron) def. Caroline Aleck/April Kerr (WMU) 8-3
2. Angelika Jogasuria/Natalia Kuvakina (Akron) vs. Kathleen Hawkins/Maria Nivia (WMU) 6-4, unfinished
3. Angelina Jogasuria/Olga Shkundina (Akron) def. Jill Pastunink/Maggie Remynse (WMU) 8-3
1. Zara Harutyunyan (UA) def. Nini Sujashvili (WMU) 7-5, 6-0
2. Olga Shkundina (UA) def. Maggie Remynse (WMU) 6-2, 6-2
3. Prang Pantusart (UA) vs. Maria Nivia (WMU) 6-1, 5-7, 5-6, unfinished
4. Angelina Jogasuria (UA) vs. Kathleen Hawkins (WMU) 6-2, 7-6 (3)
5. Ksenia Berestetska (UA) vs. Caroline Aleck (WMU) 5-7, 5-4, unfinished
6. Natalia Kuvakina (UA) vs. Jill Pastunink (WMU) 6-3, 4-6, 3-1, unfinished
Order of finish:
Doubles – 3, 1
Singles – 2, 1, 4
Akron – 23-3
Western Michigan – 17-11