Liberty Edged by FGCU in ASUN Championship Semifinals, 4-3
Liberty was edged by FGCU 4-3 in the semifinals of the 2021 ASUN Women's Tennis Championship on Friday afternoon at the UNF Tennis Complex.
The Lady Flames, the top seed in the ASUN North Division, fall to 18-7. Liberty's 18 victories this year is tied for its second most in a season in program history.
The Eagles improve to 8-6 and advance to Saturday's championship match against the No. 1 seed from the South Division, North Florida (16-7). The Ospreys bested No. 2 North seed Lipscomb (10-9) 4-0 on Friday.
The championship match will begin at 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+. The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic berth into the 2021 Division I Women's Tennis Championship.
The Eagles overcame an early 1-0 deficit after they lost the doubles session. FGCU rebounded to win at No. 4, No. 6, No. 2 and No. 5 singles to claim its spot in the championship match.
Thoughts From Head Coach Jeff Maren
"Coming up a little short in the conference tournament is never fun. It hurts, as it should. To FGCU's credit, they outplayed us on a few courts and deserved the win. With that said, I'm so incredibly proud of our team! They grew so much this year, both on the court and off. We were a family that stuck together and invested our lives into one another. The future is bright for this group of young women, not just for tennis but for the amazing impact that they will have on the world around them! I'm sad that the season is over, but I am already excited about next year with these girls and with the new ones we'll be welcoming to our family! To God be the glory!"
#2S FGCU 4, #1N Liberty 3
1. Alexandra Almborg (LIBERTYW) def. ORNBERG, Maja (FGCU) 7-6 (7-5), 7-5
2. BARDET, Emma (FGCU) def. Tiffany Nguyen (LIBERTYW) 7-5, 6-2
3. Esther Lovato (LIBERTYW) def. NORIN, Fanny (FGCU) 6-3, 6-1
4. FERDING, Ida (FGCU) def. Micaela Ode Mitre (LIBERTYW) 6-3, 6-1
5. PEREZ, Sofia (FGCU) def. Grace Hashiguchi (LIBERTYW) 7-6 (7-5), 6-4
6. RETORTILLO, Alba (FGCU) def. Eloise Saraty (LIBERTYW) 6-0, 1-6, 6-3
1. Alexandra Almborg/Eloise Saraty (LIBERTYW) def. BARDET, Emma/ORNBERG, Maja (FGCU) 6-3
2. Tiffany Nguyen/Micaela Ode Mitre (LIBERTYW) def. PEREZ, Sofia/FERDING, Ida (FGCU) 6-4
3. RETORTILLO, Alba/NORIN, Fanny (FGCU) def. Esther Lovato/Grace Hashiguchi (LIBERTYW) 6-0
#2S FGCU 8-6
#1N Liberty 18-7
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,3,6,2,1,5)
2021 ASUN Women's Tennis Championship Semifinals
How It Happened
• Liberty took the doubles point for an early 1-0 advantage on the strength of its No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams. The Lady Flames' top pairing, Alexandra Almborg and Eloise Saraty, collected their 14th win of the season. They defeated Emma Bardet and Maja Ornberg 6-3.
• The Lady Flames' No. 2 duo, Tiffany Nguyen and Micaela Ode Mitre, overcame a 4-3 deficit to defeat the Eagles' Sofia Perez and Ida Ferding 6-4. Nguyen and Ode Mitre went 15-5 in doubles this season and 28-9 as a team over the past two seasons.
• FGCU won the No. 3 doubles match, as Alba Retortillo and Fanny Norin topped Esther Lovato and Grace Hashiguchi 6-0.
• Trailing 1-0, the Eagles evened up the match at 1-1, as Ferding got past Ode Mitre in straight sets (6-3, 6-1) on court four.
• Liberty quickly regained a one-point advantage, 2-1, as Lovato won versus Norin in two sets, 6-3, 6-1. Lovato finishes the season with a 23-1 singles record.
• The No. 6 singles match between Liberty's Saraty and FGCU"s Retortillo saw each player take a set in convincing fashion, setting the stage for a third set. Saraty built a 3-2 lead in that final set, but Retortillo closed by winning four straight games and the match, 6-0, 1-6, 6-3.
• With Retortillo's victory evening the score at 2-all, the Eagles took their first lead of the day with a 7-5, 6-2 decision from Bardet over Nguyen on court two. Bardet trailed 5-2 in the first set before storming back to win that set and eventually the match.
• With FGCU now leading 3-2, Liberty kept the match alive. Almborg (No. 1 singles) battled Ornberg in a first set tiebreaker after trailing 4-2 in that set. The Lady Flames sophomore won that tiebreaker 7-6 (7-5) and also defeated Ornberg in a tightly-contested second set as well, 7-5. Almborg's 7-6 (5), 7-5 win evened the match back up at 3-3.
• The No. 5 singles match between Perez (FGCU) and Hashiguchi (Liberty) went to Perez, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Perez's triumph gave the Eagles the one-point win.
• Hashiguchi closes out her Liberty with 52 doubles wins and 33 singles victories.
• Liberty is now 1-2 all-time in the ASUN Tournament. Both losses have come to FGCU by 4-3 scores.
• The Lady Flames are now 0-4 against the Eagles.
• Liberty won 93 singles matches (93-51 record, .646 winning percentage) this season and 49 doubles matches (49-19 record, .721 winning percentage).