DeLAND, Fla. - The first round of tournament play Thursday in the A-Sun Women's Tennis Championship saw No. 3 Stetson defeat No. 6 Mercer from the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center on the campus of Stetson University.
Stetson has home-court advantage due to the Hatters hosting the league championships for the fifth time; the first since 2005. The Hatters' victory against the Bears Thursday provided a test to see how the top-performing squad would react with the home-court advantage. Stetson entered postseason play with a 17-6 overall record and an 8-2 mark in A-Sun Conference play, good for the third seed.
“I think it was important in the fact that it got us used to the conference tournament,” Stetson head coach Sasha Schmid said. “I think that you can always be nervous when you step out on the court. It is important to just be comfortable with your surroundings and it will help us have a little bit more of a cleaner start tomorrow.”
Only one seed separates the teams, but a lot rides on every point earned within the match. Earlier in the season, UNF won the deciding doubles point in an extremely close 4-3 match between the Hatters and the Ospreys.
“I think doubles is very important in every match we play,” Schmid said. “UNF won the doubles point last time and they played so well. “You would love to get the doubles point and only have to get three singles. We also know that if we do not win the doubles point we have to stay out there and battle for four singles. It is just a little bit more of an uphill battle.”
UNF enters postseason play after completing a four-year transition to Division I where the Ospreys have the opportunity to experience the championship for the first time. UNF entered the tournament field with an automatic bye into a semifinal position with the No. 2 seed.
“We have played UNF for the past four of five years and it has always been a very difficult match,” Schmid said. “They have gotten us the past couple of times and they are a very, very good team. We just know that it is going to be a challenge.”
“I think a lot goes on the momentum and the energy of the girls feeding off of each other. I think that can definitely make a lot of those matches, which are almost bound to be close, kind of swing one way or the other.”
Matches continue Friday with No. 2 UNF and No. 3 at 2 p.m. No. 1 ETSU and No. 4 Campbell will face each other in a match scheduled for 4:30 p.m.