|Niners nearly advance at league tournament|
NORFOLK, Va. – Charlotte battled down to the final point in a fiercely-contested opening round match with Southern Miss, only to fall just short in dropping a 4-3 decision to conclude its women’s tennis campaign Wednesday at the Conference USA Championships in Norfolk, Va.
The 49ers, seeded No. 14, earned a split in singles action and put forth a valiant effort in doubles to fall just shy of advancing in their return to the league tournament against the No. 11-seeded Golden Eagles.
Charlotte (7-13) picked up its three singles victories at the No. 3, 4 and 6 positions, all decided by straight sets.
Junior Natsuko Takayanagi posted the Niners’ initial point with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Karina Gurgenyan at the No. 4 slot, inching her team ahead 1-0 to start the day. Southern Miss (11-12) answered with a quick win to tie the score.
Freshman Macy Vonderschmidt, the March 25 Conference USA Athlete of the Week, pushed the 49ers back ahead by one with a 6-2, 7-5 victory against Lisa Norderer. Again, the Golden Eagles responded to force another tie.
Sophomore Jessica Pérez then proceeded to add the final Charlotte singles win with her 7-5, 6-2 decision over Kathrin Waidner at the No. 6 spot. Unfortunately, the 49ers were unable to close out the match in singles as USM fought back to draw even once again.
Junior Lisa Grosselius battled to three sets in her No. 2 meeting with Alexus Coats, garnering a second-set win, but came up just short.
With the score tied at 3-3, the two teams moved on to doubles action. Southern Miss garnered a quick point at the No. 1 slot, and with points needed in the final two matches, Charlotte fell just shy with the No. 3 meeting between Gurgenyan and Waidner facing Baker and Pérez coming down to the final point.
The 49ers finish their first season back in Conference USA with the loss. Seven of the eight players on the roster are slated to return next season, while two newcomers are set to join the squad. Southern Miss advances to Thursday’s second round to face No. 6 seed FIU.
No. 11 seed Southern Miss 4, No. 14 seed Charlotte 3
No. 1 Carolin Drescher (USM) def. Victoria Pahlett (CHA) 6-4, 6-0
No. 2 Alexus Coats (USM) def. Lisa Grosselius (CHA) 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
No. 3 Macy Vonderschmidt (CHA) def. Lisa Norderer (USM) 6-2, 7-5
No. 4 Natsuko Takayanagi (CHA) def. Karina Gurgenyan (USM) 6-1, 6-1
No. 5 Alex Kitchen (USM) def. Tyler Baker (CHA) 6-3, 6-2
No. 6 Jessica Pérez (CHA) def. Kathrin Waidner (USM) 7-5, 6-2
No. 1 Drescher/Kitchen (USM) def. Grosselius/Takayanagi (CHA) 8-1
No. 2 Pahlett/Vonderschmidt (CHA) vs. Mahitha Dadireddy/Noderer (USM) DNF
No. 3 Gurgenyan/Waidner (USM) def. Baker/Pérez (CHA) 8-7