The women’s tennis team made history with their run to the American Athletic Conference title this weekend. The women won their seventh conference title in program history, and their first since joining the American Athletic Conference.
The third seed in the conference tournament, the women had a bye in the first round, and played their first match against the sixth-seeded UCF Knights, in their quarterfinal match.
After beating UCF 6–1 in their first matchup of the season, the Knights once again proved to be no match for the Hurricane, as the women swept the match 4–0, moving onto the semifinals in the process.
In the semifinals TU played the second seeded Green Wave of Tulane, their first meeting of the season. Tulane had a 17–8 record going into the game, and were coming off a big win as they swept Temple in the quarterfinals.
Tulsa got out to a fast start taking two out of three doubles matches to earn the doubles point. After taking the early point, the Hurricane easily took three of six singles matches, with Ksenia Laskutova, Marcelina Cichon and Yelena Nemchen each winning their matches early, so the last three matches didn’t even need to be finished.
With the win over Tulane, the Hurricane moved on to face the top-seeded and 29th ranked Houston Cougars in the championship game.
Houston had something to prove in the final, as last year they made the championship game, but fell short to USF and had to settle for second in the conference. This year they wanted the win. Not having lost since Valentine’s Day, the Cougars brought a 18-game winning streak into the match.
After taking the doubles point, the Cougars and Golden Hurricane battled it out in every singles match, trading wins, until Saana Saarteinen won the 5th and final match of the day, clinching the first title for the Hurricane since 2012 when they were members of Conference-USA.
The win puts a positive spin on a season that had a lot of ups and downs. After winning six of their first seven matches of the season, the women dropped four in a row, and then went 7–5 for the rest of the regular season. During the season they moved down from 28th to 71st in the country, though with a championship run in a dominating fashion, their rank should move up before the end of the season.
With the American Athletic Conference title win, the women qualified for the NCAA Tournament, marking the ninth consecutive year that the women will compete in the National Tournament. This conference title is the fourth conference title that Tulsa has won since joining the American Athletic Conference.
The regional section of the NCAA tournament will take place on May 8–10, but Tulsa will not find out where they will play or what seed they are in the tournament until the NCAA releases the field on April 28.