|Women’s tennis preps for conference tournament|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte women’s tennis team, winners of two of its last three regular-season matches, will enter the Conference USA Championships this week in search of the tournament title when it travels to Norfolk, Va., to compete in the five-day event. The 49ers earned the No. 14 seed in the field and will face Southern Miss, the No. 11 seed, in Wednesday’s opening round at 10 a.m. at the Folkes-Stevens Tennis Center on the Old Dominion campus.
Charlotte brings a 7-12 record into the event after dropping a close 4-3 decision to East Carolina Saturday in the regular-season finale. The Niners finished the campaign 7-3 at home, including a 7-2 mark on their home courts at the Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex.
Three players have reached the double-digit win plateau in singles action to lead the team. Juniors Lisa Grosselius and Natsuko Takayanagi, along with freshman Macy Vonderschmidt, the March 25 Conference USA Athlete of the Week, have all attained the mark. Vonderschmidt is the only one of the trio to accomplish the feat this spring.
Vonderschmidt also paces the squad with eight doubles victories in 2013-14, topping the five by sophomore Jessica Pérez. Takayanagi and freshman Victoria Pahlett have added four doubles triumphs to the overall team ledger.
Vonderschmidt and Pahlett own three and two-match win streaks, respectively, in singles play entering the tournament. When the duo is paired together in doubles, it has captured victories in its last three decisions.
Southern Miss owns a 10-12 mark through regular-season action after handing Louisiana a 4-3 setback Sunday in its final match. The Golden Eagles have won three straight, including a pair of home wins Saturday over William Carey and Southern, entering the league tournament.
First-year head coach Dominic Modise’s squad features six freshmen and one senior with Carolin Drescher and Alex Kitchen setting the tone in singles with 15 victories apiece. Two other USM players have reached the double-digit wins barrier.
Drescher and Kitchen also form the program’s top doubles tandem with 12 triumphs, edging out the 11 put together by Mahitha Dadireddy and Lisa Norderer.
Charlotte is just 7-21 all-time in the Conference USA Championships, dating back to its first stint in the league from 1996-2005, though it won at least one match in its final three years, including the last two seasons in which it played during head coach Michaela Gorman’s first two campaigns with the program.
The 49ers own a 4-2 series lead over the Golden Eagles with five of the six previous meetings coming in league tournaments, either in the Metro Conference or Conference USA. Charlotte picked up a 4-1 triumph over USM April 23, 2005, in its last C-USA contest before departing for an eight-year stint in the Atlantic 10. The conference tournament was held in Fort Worth, Texas, at TCU that season and is the only time the two programs have met during Gorman’s tenure.
The single-elimination tournament begins Wednesday and the Niners will need to win five matches in five days in order to claim the title. No. 20 Tulsa earned the No. 1 spot with three other schools, who are also nationally ranked, completing the top-four seeds and garnering the double byes into the quarterfinals.