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No. 1 Winthrop Edges No. 2 Liberty, 4-3, for Big South Championship

April 21, 2018  Rock Hill, S.C.  RSS
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Crist won her No. 5 singles match (the 99th of her career) in Saturday's championship match vs. Winthrop.

Crist won her No. 5 singles match (the 99th of her career) in Saturday's championship match vs. Winthrop.

In a title match that came down to the third set of the final match (No. 2 singles), No. 1 seed Winthrop prevailed, 4-3, over No. 2 Liberty on Saturday at the Rock Hill Tennis Center.

With its victory, Winthrop (19-5) claims the last three Big South titles. Liberty's season ends at 18-9, as the Lady Flames' eight-match winning streak was snapped.

The Eagles' Alisa Soloveva provided the fourth point, defeating Maria Medina on court two in three sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Winthrop has now won 20 Big South titles.

The Lady Flames secured the doubles point for an early 1-0 edge and needed to win three of the six singles bouts to claim their first Big South championship in program history. Liberty was victorious in the No. 3 (Lara Soares) and No. 5 (Evangeline Crist) singles matches, but the Eagles won on courts one, two, four and six for the 4-3 triumph.

Liberty has now finished as the runner-up at the Big South Women's Tennis Championship in two of the last three years. The Lady Flames' 18 wins are the second most in a season in program history.

The Lady Flames' No. 2 doubles duo of Maria Medina and Lara Soares avenged a loss to the Eagles' Soloveva and Tayla Van Eck three weeks prior with an emphatic 6-1 win. Medina and Soares, a first team all-conference doubles recipient, finished their first year as doubles partners with a 21-7 overall record, 18-5 spring record and a nine-match winning streak.

Despite winning two of the first three games, Evangeline Crist/Anna Dollar (No. 1 doubles) fell to the Eagles' top doubles pairing of Lauren Proctor and Megan Kauffman, 6-2.

Meanwhile, the Lady Flames' Rebekah Anderson and Grace Hashiguchi were tied, 3-3, with Aida Kelic and Ellie Burns on court three. Anderson and Hashiguchi continued their winning ways, taking three of the next four games for the 6-4 victory and a 1-0 lead in the match for Liberty. The Lady Flames' duo posted a 16-2 record, this spring, and won their final 10 matches.

Winthrop's Van Eck and Burns swung momentum in the hosts' favor with their singles victories on courts four and six, respectively. Van Eck bested Liberty's Polina Miroshnichenko (6-1, 6-4) in straight sets, while Burns also won her match in two sets over her counterpart, Dollar, 6-2, 6-1. The Eagles led, 2-1, following Burns' win.

Liberty's Soares delivered a point with her 6-2, 6-3 decision over Kauffman, the second time she defeated her Winthrop opponent in three weeks. Soares went 18-3 in spring singles, winning her last 11 bouts.

With the match now tied at 2-all, the Lady Flames' Crist topped Kelic (6-3, 6-1) in two sets on court five for a 3-2 Liberty edge. Crist's victory, the 92nd of her career, was her 15th straight to close out her senior campaign.

The Eagles' No. 1 player, No. 31 Lauren Proctor, battled versus Liberty junior Ashley Bongart. Proctor claimed the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (7-5), and won the second, 6-3. Her 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory evened the match at 3-3.

The three-set match on court two saw Soloveva win the first set from Medina, 6-2. Medina forced a third set with her 6-3 second-set triumph. However, Soloveva built up 3-0 and 5-2 leads in the third set in winning, 6-3, to take the match 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Some other highlights of Liberty's season included 10 shutouts, eight by a 7-0 margin. Liberty also placed a program-record seven players on the Big South All-Conference teams. In the spring, Lady Flames players posted a .770 (57-17) winning percentage in doubles and .697 (106-46) winning percentage in singles.

#1 Winthrop 4, #2 Liberty 3
Singles competition

1. PROCTOR, Lauren (WIN) def. BONGART, Ashley (LIBERTYW) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
2. SOLOVEVA, Alisa (WIN) def. MEDINA, Maria (LIBERTYW) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
3. SOARES, Lara (LIBERTYW) def. KAUFFMAN, Megan (WIN) 6-2, 6-3
4. VAN ECK, Tayla (WIN) def. MIROSHNICHENKO, P. (LIBERTYW) 6-1, 6-4
5. CRIST, Evangeline (LIBERTYW) def. KELIC, Aida (WIN) 6-3, 6-1
6. BURNS, Ellie (WIN) def. DOLLAR, Anna (LIBERTYW) 6-2, 6-1

Doubles competition
1. PROCTOR, Lauren/KAUFFMAN, Megan (WIN) def. DOLLAR, Anna/CRIST, Evangeline (LIBERTYW) 6-2
2. MEDINA, Maria/SOARES, Lara (LIBERTYW) def. SOLOVEVA, Alisa/VAN ECK, Tayla (WIN) 6-1
3. ANDERSON, Rebekah/HASHIGUCHI, Grace (LIBERTYW) def. KELIC, Aida/BURNS, Ellie (WIN) 6-4

Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (4,6,3,5,1,2) 2018 Big South Women's Tennis Championship
Final T-2:55