Four Liberty women's tennis players and head coach Jeff Maren were honored on Wednesday evening by the conference prior to the start of the 2019 ASUN Women's Tennis Championship.
Junior Kalani Soli has been named to the ASUN All-Conference first team. Freshman Alexandra Almborg garnered inclusion on the ASUN All-Freshmen team.
Seniors Ashley Bongart and Lara Soares received ASUN Conference All-Academic team mention. The Lady Flames and Florida Gulf Coast both featured two student-athletes on the all-academic team.
Finally, Liberty Women's Tennis Head Coach Jeff Maren has been selected as the ASUN Coach of the Year.
Kalani Soli Soli, a unanimous selection to the first team, has been a dominant force in the No. 2 slot in the lineup, this spring, in her first year with the Lady Flames. The Carson, Calif., native is a perfect 14-0 in the No. 2 singles slot and has won her last 13 matches overall. Soli finished 7-0 in ASUN singles matches as well.
The junior is 15-3 in spring singles bouts and 23-6 overall in 2018-19. She is also 10-3 in doubles matches in 2019, including an 8-2 mark with sophomore Grace Hashiguchi. Soli was named ASUN Player of the Week on March 20, the first player in program history to garner the distinction.
Alexandra Almborg Almborg, a unanimous selection to the all-freshmen team, posted a 3-1 mark in ASUN singles matches. She has seven victories this spring and a 4-1 record at No. 4 singles.
The Staffanstorp, Sweden, native also went 2-0 in ASUN doubles matches and is 3-0 at No. 2 doubles in 2019. Almborg has a 10-3 overall record in doubles during her freshman year and has 11 total singles victories.
Ashley Bongart Bongart, a native of Bradenton, Fla., carries a 3.82 GPA as a digital media major. The senior received a No. 107 singles national ranking by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) on Feb. 20. She also received ASUN Co-Player of the Week honors a week ago (April 10), the first player of the week recognition of her career.
Bongart holds a 6-6 mark in the No. 1 singles slot, this spring, and has 19 total singles wins during her final campaign. Bongart is also 19-9 in doubles on the year, with 17 of those victories coming with fellow senior Anna Dollar as her partner.
Bongart has a track record of academic success, earning Big South Presidential Honor Roll and ITA Scholar-Athlete distinction a year ago.
Lara Soares Soares, the Lady Flames' captain, carries a 3.66 GPA as an interdisciplinary studies major. The Sobradinho, Brazil, native has a five-match winning streak in singles coming into the ASUN Championship and is 6-4 in the No. 3 slot in the lineup.
Soares has a total of 18 singles victories during her senior campaign and is also 21-9 in doubles on the year, including a 12-5 mark at No. 1 doubles with partner and fellow senior Maria Medina. This is the second academic honor of Soares' Liberty career. She garnered inclusion on the Big South Presidential Honor Roll in 2018.
Jeff Maren Maren is receiving ASUN Coach of the Year distinction in the Lady Flames' first season in the conference. It is Maren's second conference coach of the year distinction. He was also named Big South Coach of the Year in 2016.
Maren led Liberty to a 15-6 regular season mark, a 6-1 record in the ASUN, a share of the ASUN regular-season crown and the No. 1 seed for the ASUN Women's Tennis Championship, which begins on Thursday morning. The Lady Flames are currently on an eight-match winning streak heading into the conference tournament.
Maren recorded his milestone 100th victory with the Lady Flames with a home victory over Lipscomb, March 30. In seven seasons at Liberty, Maren holds a 105-61 record.
2019 ASUN Women's Tennis Championship Awaits the Lady Flames The 2019 ASUN Women's Tennis Championship, held at the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center at Stetson (DeLand, Fla.), will begin tomorrow morning.
No. 1 seed Liberty has received a bye to the semifinal round of the ASUN Championship, where the Lady Flames await the winner of No. 4 seed Florida Gulf Coast (9-9, 4-3 ASUN) and No. 5 seed Stetson (12-8, 3-4 ASUN). Those two teams will play on Thursday at 9 a.m., with the winner moving on to face Liberty on Friday at 9 a.m.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed North Florida (15-7, 6-1 ASUN) will receive a bye to the semifinals, where it will face either No. 3 seed Lipscomb (16-5, 5-2 ASUN) or No. 6 seed NJIT (13-8, 2-5 ASUN).
The title match will be played at 10 a.m., Saturday morning. The winner of the championship will receive an automatic bid to the 2019 Division I Women's Tennis Championship.
2019 ASUN Conference Women's Tennis Postseason Honors & Awards Player of the Year: Vika Dzyuba, Lipscomb Doubles Pair of the Year: Joleta Budiman & Holly Matson, NJIT Freshman of the Year: Joleta Budiman, NJIT Coach of the Year: Jeff Maren, Liberty
ASUN First Team All-Conference *Vika Dzyuba&, Lipscomb, Sr. *Maja Ornberg&, FGCU, Jr. *Kalani Soli, Liberty, Jr. Kate Popova#, Lipscomb, So. Joleta Budiman, NJIT, Fr. Rafaela Gomez&, North Florida, Sr.
ASUN Second Team All-Conference Sara Kelly, FGCU, Sr. Madeleine Brooks, Lipscomb, Sr. Mouna Bouzgarrou, NJIT, Fr. Ana Paula Melilo, North Florida, Fr. Danel Ashirova, Stetson, Sr. Brooke Milner, Stetson, So.
ASUN All-Freshmen Team *Joleta Budiman, NJIT *Alexandra Almborg, Liberty *Liza Diachenko, Lipscomb *Mouna Bouzgarrou, NJIT *Ana Paula Melilo, North Florida Kendall Nash, Kennesaw State * - Denotes a unanimous selection # - Denotes a two-time selection to the First Team All-Conference & - Denotes a three-time selection to the First Team All-Conference
2019 ASUN Conference Women's Tennis All-Academic Team
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Julia Ascua, FGCU
2019 ASUN Conference All-Academic Team Julia Ascua&, FGCU Sr., Maja Ornberg, FGCU, Jr. Ashley Bongart, Liberty, Sr. Lara Soares, Liberty, Sr. Vika Dzyuba#, Lipscomb, Sr. Rafaela Gomez, North Florida, Sr. # - Denotes a two-time selection to the All-Academic Team & - Denotes a three-time selection to the All-Academic Team