Sunday, April 21, 2013

Singles Trio Locks Up Ospreys' Third Title

Only six programs have won back-to-back titles in the 28 years of the Atlantic Sun Women’s Tennis Championship. On Sunday, North Florida joined that club as the Ospreys dispatched ETSU, 4-2, for the second-straight season on the Buccaneers’ turf.

Led by three All-Tournament honorees (Lorena Aviles, Melanie Aguirre and Simona Weymar), UNF won three singles points to clinch its spot in history, but it wasn’t easy as several matches saw tiebreakers, battles on the court and monumental comebacks.

Tournament MVP and A-Sun Player of the Year, Lorena Aviles lost to ETSU’s No. 1 singles player Antonia Kolovou in the regular season, but reveled in the opportunity to face the Bucs’ top player again as she captured a 6-3, 6-3 victory. Her point at No. 1 tied the match up at two as she handed the keys to Weymar and Aguirre to lock up the match.

UNF Head Coach Audra Cohen knows one of the keys to this year’s championship run was the will and attitude from her top player.

“Aviles has just really stepped it up since our loss to ETSU in the regular season and it has permeated down the lineup and helped us get to this point.”

Weymar utilized a win in the first set tiebreaker against the Bucs’ Lyn Yee Choo to propel herself to a straight-set win at No. 2 singles. Her win pushed the Ospreys into the lead at 3-2 and only one step away from the team’s second-straight A-Sun title. Since taking over as the UNF head coach in the fall of 2011 Cohen has preached to her team the necessity of being able to handle difficult situations.

“The number one thing I try to teach our team is to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations and dealing with pressure and how to deal with big moments. To see our team fulfill all of those items that we have worked on is fantastic.

The match-clinching point came from the Ospreys’ Melanie Aguirre vs. Sofia Espana (6-7, 6-4, 6-4). Aguirre and Espana needed a first-set tiebreaker that went to Espana. After Espana raced out to a four-game advantage in set three, Aguirre stormed back to win six-straight games and clinch the title for the Ospreys.

The comeback was anything but shocking for North Florida Head Coach Audra Cohen as her team thrives in high-pressure situations.

“We didn’t have any strong spots or any weak spots. We were just a team that was willing to work hard and come together to get the job done today.”

Aguirre, the team’s weathered senior, has been a member of the three of the Ospreys’ four title teams. She welcomes the pressure of the match-clinching points. As a freshman in 2010, Aguirre delivered the final point vs. ETSU to earn the Tournament MVP honors to give UNF the first of its three A-Sun titles in the past four seasons.

“It is a testament to how tough these girls are and how tough this program is,” Cohen added of her team’s fighting will. “We are a working-class program and are willing to put in the work in order to get the job done.”

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