Interim UNF head coach Chastity Bradley walked into a championship situation. The Ospreys had claim their first Atlantic Sun Conference Women’s Tennis Championship a year ago and entered 2011 among the favorites in the conference.
However, the team had to find a replacement for head coach Rodrigo Puebla after he left for Iowa State less than two weeks prior to the beginning of the spring season. After a 2-2 start, Bradley directed the Ospreys to nine wins in their next 10 matches – including a 4-3 victory against eventual regular-season champion ETSU.
“At the very beginning, I was hired and very next day I was holding practice,” Bradley said. “The girls were very welcoming. Every single day they showed up ready to practice at 110 percent. They did have a lot of expectations with winning the championship last year. I’ve told the girls from the very beginning ‘let’s go win one match at a time’ – which was our goal as this tournament. We didn’t worry about the seedings, but let’s just go out and win one match at a time.”
Narrow 4-3 losses to Campbell and Stetson resulted in UNF earning only the fourth seed for this week’s A-Sun Championship. After dispensing crosstown rival Jacksonville for the second time in less than a week, the Ospreys set up a rematch with ETSU. The Ospreys own the last two victories by A-Sun members against the Buccaneers. In addition to this year’s win in March, the Ospreys claimed that A-Sun Championship by toppling the top-seeded Buccaneers in the title match.
The UNF title defense opened in strong fashion starting with the teams of Victoria Krook/Melinda Doak and Danielle Day/Melanie Aguirre earning wins in doubles to snag the opening point. The lead grew to 3-0 when Aguirre and Day scored straight-set wins. However, Jacksonville scored a win from Virginia Iwinski and threatened to seize even more momentum until Krook quelled the comeback effort by defeating Flavia Nagayama in the third set after losing the second-set tie break.
“I had complete confidence in my girls,” Bradley said. “I was getting a little nervous at the end, but my senior [Krook] clinched it for me.”
Coach Bradley “one match at a time” mantra held up on Thursday, will it help carry the Ospreys back in to the final against ETSU? She and her team will find out beginning at 9 a.m.