SURPRISE, Ariz. - The No. 2-ranked and defending NCAA Division II national champion Armstrong Atlantic State University women's tennis team is headed back to the national championship match after notching a 5-2 victory over No. 4 Hawaii Pacific on Friday afternoon at the Surprise Racquet & Tennis Complex in Surprise, Ariz.
The Pirates (29-1) will now match up with BYU Hawaii - 5-2 winners over Abilene Christian in the other national semifinal match - at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday for the title. The two teams matched up in last year's title match, won by Armstrong, and the two powers are tied for the most DII women's tennis titles NCAA history with seven apiece.
Armstrong won two of three doubles matches to take a 2-1 lead heading into singles play. The No. 2-ranked doubles duo of Aleksandra Filipovski and Barbora Krtickova defeated the No. 22-ranked duo of Vivian Hansen and Magdalena Smejova, 8-1, at No. 1 doubles. The No. 5-ranked doubles duo of Marlen Hacke and Olga Kalodzitsa downed Lea Kruse-Utermann and Karen Ramirez, 8-2, at No. 2 doubles. Hawaii Pacific's doubles point came at No. 3 doubles as Celina Goetti and Ielyzaveta Rybakova downed Clara Perez and Natasa Vukovic, 8-1, at No. 3 doubles.
In singles play, the Pirates took straight-set singles wins at No. 1 singles as third-ranked Filipovski defeated No. 12-ranked Rybakova, 6-1, 6-0, and No. 17-ranked Hake beat Hansen, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 4 singles. Hawaii Pacific notched a singles point at No. 5 singles as Smejova upset No. 27-ranked Kalodzitsa, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 5 singles.
With two other matches into the third set of action, Vukovic battled back from a late break in the second set to force a second-set tiebreaker against Kruse-Utermann at No. 6 singles. Vukovic prevailed to clinch the match, winning 6-4, 7-6 (4), to send Armstrong into the finals.
BYU Hawaii and Armstrong have a long history of finals play, last year's 5-2 win by the Pirates included. BYU Hawaii took wins over the Pirates in the 1999, 2002 and 2006 finals, while the Pirates defeated the Seasiders in the 2005, 2010 and 2012 finals.