No. 3 FGCU Earns First Postseason Win, Endures JU

Friday, April 20, 2012

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – No. 3 FGCU and No. 6 Jacksonville played into the night on Friday in the 2012 Atlantic Sun Championships at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center, with the Eagles getting all they could handle in a 4-2 victory.

After squeaking out the doubles point, FGCU took a commanding 3-0 lead in the match by earning the first two singles victories. The Dolphins rallied back to pull the score to within a point, but could not complete the comeback as Bettina Botha clinched with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 3 against Gabriela Bartos.

FGCU (10-10, 6-3 A-Sun) will now advance to its first A-Sun Championship semifinal against No. 2 seed and host ETSU on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The match has been moved up from its original time of 4:30 p.m. and will be played at Milligan College in an attempt to beat out forecasted inclement weather.

Jacksonville (7-13, 4-5 A-Sun) ends its 2012 season just as it did last year, falling out in the quarterfinals as the No. 6 seed. In the 2011 Championships, JU was ousted by third-seeded North Florida, 4-1.

FGCU’s Jen Evans and Gyanna Mandic put the match into motion with an 8-1 defeat of JU’s Djessika Bezerra and Virginia Iwinski at No. 2. JU came back to win the No. 1 match 8-4, as Natalia Melibeu and Aline Staudt pulled through against Marina Diez and Morgan Bechtel. In the deciding set at No. 3, Botha and Sarah Means were deadlocked with Bartos and Veronique Spencer, 6-6, but won the final two games to grant the Eagles the match’s first point.

The Eagles then carried their momentum into singles action as Evans and Mandic put FGCU in control by taking the first two matches and a 3-0 lead. Evans earned her victory over Bezerra 6-3, 6-4 in the No. 4 match, before Mandic came back from dropping the first set in a 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 decision against Iwinski.

JU did not go quietly into the night. Spencer put the Dolphins on the board by rallying back from falling in the first set 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 over Diez. Staudt decreased the FGCU lead even more with a hard-fought 7-5, 6-2 takedown of Means in the top match.

With the lights at the Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center illuminated, Botha put an end to any ideas the Dolphins had of a comeback and punched the Eagles ticket to the semifinals. The No. 2 match was left unfinished with Bechtel leading Melibeu 7-6 (7-5), 5-2.

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region:Belmont University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.