Maria Cardenas notched her fifth straight victory on Saturday
April 20, 2014
TAMPA, Fla.--- It came down to the very end in a thrilling championship affair, but USF squeaked out a 4-2 victory over top-seeded Houston, to claim the 2014 American Athletic Conference Championship, Sunday afternoon out at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts.
For the Cougars (21-5), the loss snaps what was a season-high six match win streak, while also marking their first loss to a conference opponent this season.
Things looked promising for UH early on, as Tina Rupert and Maria Cardenas teamed up to earn an 8-3 victory over USF's Olaya Garrido-Rivas and Fanny Fracassi in doubles action, notching the tandem's 11th win of the season.
With Houston up 1-0, the Bulls needed to respond, and they did, as Garrido-Rivas took down Rupert (23-7, 18-4 Dual), 6-3, 6-2, on court three, snapping what was a team-best 10-match win streak.
But the Cougars wasted no time in regaining the lead, as Cardenas (22-10, 16-7 Dual) defeated USF's Fanny Fracassi in straight sets from the No. 4 spot, 6-3, 6-1 to sport UH a 2-1 advantage.
However, the Bulls soon took advantage of some close opening set wins to gain the momentum, as Charlotte Phillips (18-9, 10-7 Dual) dropped a close 7-5, 6-2 affair, while Vogasari couldn't quite hold off the nation's 79th ranked player in Alonso. Vogasari (25-7, 21-4 Dual) lost a tough 7-5, 6-4 decision on court one, snapping what was a six-match win streak.
With the Bulls holding a 3-2 advantage, USF's Vera Bessonova closed out the championship with a 7-6, 6-1 victory over Rocio Martin (14-6, 9-5 Dual) on court five.
Due to tournament rules, the match was called, but Koroldaimi held a 6-4, 3-6, 3-2 lead over USF's Kayla Rizzolo when play was stopped, while USF was forced to win first set tiebreakers in three of its four singles victories on the day.
Houston now awaits its postseason fate, as NCAA.com will stream the 2014 NCAA Tournament Selection Show live on Tuesday, April 29 at 4:30 p.m. CT. If the Cougars do qualify for the postseason, it would be their third tournament berth in school history and the first since 1998. It would also mark the first time Houston has made the event as an at-large participant.
Match Notes: Houston has won the doubles point in 11 of its last 14 matches...the Cougars had scored 29 unanswered points going back to the end of UH's April 6 match vs. then-ranked No. 31 DePaul before USF scored in singles action today.
No. 41 USF 4, No. 32 Houston 2
- #79 Loreto Alonso (USF) def. #95 Despoina Vogasari (HOU) 7-5, 6-4
- Kayla Rizzolo (USF) vs. Elena Kordolaimi (HOU) 3-6, 6-4, 2-3, unfinished
- Olaya Garrido-Rivas (USF) def. Tina Rupert (HOU) 6-3, 6-2
- Maria Cardenas (HOU) def. Fanny Fracassi (USF) 6-3, 6-1
- Vera Bessonova (USF) def. Rocio Martin (HOU) 7-6, 6-1
- Olga Martinez (USF) def. Charlotte Phillips (HOU) 7-5, 6-2
Order of Finish: 3,4,6,1,5*
- Despoina Vogasari/Elena Kordolaimi (HOU) def. Loreto Alonso/Kayla Rizzolo (USF) 8-5
- Tina Rupert/Maria Cardenas (HOU) def. Olaya Garrido-Rivas/Fanny Fracassi (USF) 8-3
- Vera Bessonova/Olga Martinez (USF) def. Rocio Martin/Charlotte Phillips (HOU) 8-3
Order of Finish: 2,3,1