SFA women land three seed in Waco's four-team pod
The No. 46th-ranked Stephen F. Austin women's tennis will face No. 25 Tulsa Friday, May 11th in the opening round of the NCAA Championships. The match is slated to begin at 11 a.m. from the Hurd Tennis Center in Waco, Texas. The 'Jacks enter NCAA Championships with a 23-4 overall record. SFA has won seven of its last eight matches, including three straight, coming into the tournament. The other two teams in the four-team pod are Oral Roberts and No. 12 national seed Baylor. The Baylor/ORU matchup is slated to begin at 2 p.m. Friday.
Scouting the Opposition
No. 25 Tulsa is 22-3 overall, and enters the NCAA Championships as one of the nation's hottest teams having won 12-straight matches. Baylor is 23-7 on the season and enters the weekend having won four of its last five matches, but is coming off a 4-3 setback to Texas A&M in the Big 12 Championships. Oral Roberts is 13-5 overall and has won 10 consecutive entering postseason play.
SFA vs. the Field
SFA is 1-2 (.333) against the NCAA's field of 64 teams. The 'Jacks dropped matches to Illinois and Baylor, while picking up a 7-0 win over North Texas earlier this season.
The 46th-ranked Stephen F. Austin women's tennis team is making its first appearance in the NCAA Championships in program history.
SLC Title Comes to Nacogdoches
The Stephen F. Austin women's tennis team recorded its first Southland Conference title in program history this past season. The No. 46-ranked team in the country went 23-4 (.852) record on the season and posted a 10-1 (.909) record in conference play.
The 'Jacks set a new school record for wins in a season when they defeated UTSA in the opening round of the conference tournament for their 21st victory of the year. SFA enters the NCAA Championships with 23 wins which ranks tied for fourth in the country. SFA currently ranks behinds No. 3 Duke (25), No. 60 College of Charleston (25), Akron (245) and is tied with No. 23 Nebraska (23). SFA also set a program record for winning percentage in 2012 (23-4/.852).
Conference Record-Setting Pace
The 'Jacks also set a new record for conference wins in a season. SFA finished the year 10 wins, winning the first 10 matches of the year before dropping their only loss of the season in the regular-season finale.
After never having recorded a 20-win season in program history, SFA has now won 20 matches in each of the past two seasons.
In addition to the other records SFA broke during the 2012 campaign, the 'Jacks also recorded a program-best 14-match win streak.
Stephen F. Austin cracked the ITA Top 75 poll during the 2011 season. SFA took that a step further in 2012 moving up to No. 35 nationally on March 7th. SFA enters the NCAA Championships as the nation's 46th-ranked team.
Wins Over Ranked Opponents
SFA defeated No. 59 Tulane earlier this season for its only national-ranked win, but SFA has recorded wins over North Texas and Mississippi State who later moved into the national rankings.
Almost overnight head coach Patrick Sullivan transitioned the Stephen F. Austin women's tennis team from one competing to qualify for the conference tournament to one winning conference championships. In his first season SFA set a school record for wins (20), winning percentage (20-5/.800), winning streak (9) and win streak to start a season (9). The 2011 season also marked the first year SFA had an individual ranked nationally, as well as the team receiving a national ranking (71). SFA improved upon those numbers this season by winning 23 matches, recording an .852 winning percentage, a winning 14-straight matches and was ranked as high as 35th at one point during the season.
SFA has made a habit of starting strong during the 2012 season. The 'Jacks have not lost the doubles point in their last 25 matches, a streak that goes back to their setback at No. 69 Illinois in the second match of the season. In fact, the Illini are the only team to win the doubles point against SFA in 2012. In three of the matches there was no doubles played. SFA has swept all three doubles matches 11 times this season.
A Closer Look at the 2s
Senior Alina Shazhko and Jithmie Jayawickrema jumped out to a great start in doubles play this season. The duo won their first seven matches of the spring season, including two wins over top-30 teams. The tandem cracked the national rankings at No. 17, the highest ranking for a doubles team in school and Southland Conference history.
SFA is one of the youngest teams in the nation. The 'Jacks 2012 roster consists of one senior, two juniors one sophomore and four freshmen.
The Defense Doesn't Rest
SFA has held its opponents to one point or less 18 time this season, including eight shutouts, 2012.
SFA had five players finish the year with at least 20 singles wins. Freshman Malena Gordo posted a 28-6 (.824) mark, while senior Alina Shazhko went 24-8 (.750). Freshmen Tereza Bekerova and Elena Kordolaimi and junior Antonia Kolovou each recorded 23 wins on the season.