DeLAND, Fla. – With No. 64 UNF’s 4-1 victory against No. 70 ETSU Saturday afternoon at the Atlantic Sun Women’s Tennis Championship at Stetson’s Mandy Stoll Tennis Center, the Ospreys will make their first appearance at the NCAA Division I tournament.
The victory for UNF marks the first time a women’s program has participated in a postseason Division I tournament after completing a mandatory four-year transition to Division I play, in addition to this season standing as the first time a women’s squad won the league tournament during a first chance for tournament eligibility.
The A-Sun Head Coach of the Year in UNF’s Rodrigo Puebla led his team to a record-setting season at 19-2 overall, including a 9-1 tally in conference play. During regular season play, the Ospreys fell to the Lady Buccaneers by a 5-2 mark.
“Coming in here we did not know what to expect because this is my first time as well,” Puebla said. “Today we came out using the momentum from yesterday.”
Even though postseason hopes stood out of reach for the Lady Ospreys for several seasons due to NCAA reclassification rules, UNF knew one day it would vie for a league title.
“This is our first time here and we were asking for respect,” Puebla said. “Going to the NCAA’s will help us earn it in the conference and in the nation. This was our main goal when we started the year, and from the beginning as a coach that’s one of your main goals. We knew the Bucs were going to come out and play their best but I think we wanted it a little bit more.”
UNF can contribute its success to the entirety of the team as each player had to step up to earn each and every point.
“Over the season, I think everybody contributed to our success. We do not really have a team leader because everybody helps in a big way. Without the help of our SWA Kathy Klein, our Director of Compliance Michelle Bonner, our Director of Athletics Lee Moon and our assistant coach Ronnie Sang, who really stepped up this year, we would not have made it.”
“I had met with all of the teams at the beginning of the year because this was our first,” Moon said. “Don’t be satisfied with just competing. We play for championships now. I am excited that the women’s tennis team is able to win the first one. We have come close this year and it is a great experience for them. Hopefully, it will carry over now where everyone else can share the same feeling.”