Tennis Claims Back-to-Back MAC Titles, Edges Miami 4-3 in Championship
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DEKALB, Ill. – Prang Pantusart scored a three-set, last-match-on-court win at No. 3 singles to give the second-seeded University of Akron tennis team a 4-3 comeback victory over top-seeded Miami (Ohio) in the Mid-American Conference tournament championship on Sunday afternoon at West Tennis Courts on the Northern Illinois campus.
The Zips (24-3) are back-to-back champions after topping the RedHawks (14-10) by an identical score in last year's title contest. Those are UA's only appearances in the league tournament's championship match.
With the victory, Akron has earned the MAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Pairings will be announced on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET via NCAA.com, with the first and second rounds to be held on May 11-13 at regional campus sites.
After winning her first set at No. 3 singles 6-3, Pantusart dropped the next set 7-5 to Nimisha Mohan, but brought home match point with a resounding 6-0 decision in the third set. The clutch performance earned her event MVP honors and landed her on the all-tournament team along with teammate Zara Harutyunyan.
It was Harutyunyan's 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles against Stephanie Danesis that gave UA a 2-1 lead in the match scoring, after Zip Angelika Jogasuria made it 1-all with her 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 6 over Christine Guerrazzi.
Miami's Riekie Honiball evened the tally at two points apiece when she downed Olga Shkundina at No. 2, 6-3, 6-2. Akron jumped ahead 3-2 thanks to a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 4 by Angelina Jogasuria over Christiana Raymond, but the battle continued as MU's Alix Thurman got the best of Ksenia Berestetska 6-4, 6-4 at No. 5 to make the team score 3-all and set up Pantusart's heroics at the third flight.
Miami took first and second doubles, in that order, to claim the early one-point match lead. Danesis and Guerrazzi defeated Harutyunyan and Pantusart 8-5 at No. 1, while Honiball and Mohan topped Angelika Jogasuria and Natalia Kuvakina 8-3 at No. 2. When the doubles point was decided, the score at No. 3 was 6-5 in favor of Akron's Shkundina and Angelina Jogasuria versus Raymond and Thurman.
Sunday's conference title, the fifth in 2011-12 for an Akron Athletics team, rounded out an exciting week for the Zips tennis program. On Thursday night, Shkundina was named league freshman-of-the-year and also earned a spot on the All-MAC First Team. Additionally, Harutyunyan was named to the all-conference first team and Pantusart to the all-league second team.
Along with the tennis program, Zips Athletics teams have claimed MAC championships in men's soccer (regular-season), men's basketball (regular-season), and men's indoor track and field during the current academic year. Additionally, the rifle team claimed the Mid-Atlantic Conference smallbore master class division championship in February.
Zips Notebook: Akron is the first repeat MAC tournament champion since Miami did so in 2009 and 2010 ... Western Michigan also won consecutive league tournament titles in 2006 and 2007, and 1999 and 2000 ... Marshall, a former member of the MAC, won four-straight tourney trophies from 2002-05 ... the Zips have won three-straight and 10 of their last 11 overall matches ... UA improved its win streak in the MAC tournament to six, and is now 2-0 all-time when playing in the event's title round ... the Zips improved to 4-0 in neutral court matches this season ... Prang Pantusart improved to 19-3 in dual-match singles play this season, including a 15-2 mark when playing in the No. 3 spot ... today's win over Miami was just Akron's second in the all-time series with the RedHawks ... MU leads the all-time series 21-2 and has provided Akron its only loss in league play in each of the last three seasons ... the Zips faced Michigan in last year's NCAA Championship first round, losing 4-0 to the 10th-ranked Wolverines in the Ann Arbor Regional.
(2) Akron 4, (1) Miami (Ohio) 3
1. Stephanie Danesis/Christine Guerrazzi (Miami) def. Zara Harutyunyan/Prang Pantusart (Akron) 8-5
2. Riekie Honiball/Nimisha Mohan (Miami) def. Angelika Jogasuria/Natalia Kuvakina (Akron) 8-3
3. Angelina Jogasuria/Olga Shkundina (UA) vs. Christiana Raymond/Alix Thurman (Miami) 6-5, unfinished
1. Zara Harutyunyan (Akron) def. Stephanie Danesis (Miami) 6-3, 6-2
2. Riekie Honiball (Miami) def. Olga Shkundina (Akron) 6-3, 6-2
3. Prang Pantusart (Akron) def. Nimisha Mohan (Miami) 6-3, 5-7, 6-0
4. Angelina Jogasuria (Akron) def. Christiana Raymond (Miami) 6-3, 6-2
5. Alix Thurman (Miami) def. Ksenia Berestetska (Akron) 6-4, 6-4
6. Angelika Jogasuria (Akron) def. Christine Guerrazzi (Miami) 6-3, 6-0
Order of finish:
Doubles – 1, 2
Singles – 6, 1, 2, 4, 5, 3
Akron – 24-3
Miami – 14-10
Prang Pantusart, Akron (MVP)
Zara Harutyunyan, Akron
Alix Thurman, Miami
Riekie Honiball, Miami
Katie Grubb, Bowling Green
Kathleen Hawkins, Western Michigan