CORPUS CHRISTI – It took going to the final match on the court, but the Bearkat tennis team pulled off the upset of top-seeded Abilene Christian to advance to the finals of the Southland Conference tournament.
After dropping the doubles point for the second straight day, the Kats battled back winning four singles match to pull off the 4-3 win.
WTEN: Lusine Chobanyan wins the decisive third set 6-2 at No. 4 singles to put @BearkatsWTEN through to the Southland Conference women's tennis championship match for the first time in program history. #SouthlandStrong #EatEmUpKats pic.twitter.com/fI7S2rz5Fo— Southland Conference (@SouthlandSports) April 26, 2019
“We knew we were in for a battle today with Abilene,” said head coach Rob Hubbard. “We ran them really close before, so we were anxious to replay them. We’ve been in this position before having dropped the doubles point and needing to pull it out in the singles so we knew we could do it.”
With the match tied at 3, everything came down to Lusine Chobanyan’s match at No. 4. She took the opening set 6-2 and then dropped the second 2-6. After taking a 1-0 lead in the third, Abilene clinched wins at No. 2 and No. 3, leaving Chobanyan as the last match on the courts.
“When the third started I know we still had a few matches going,” she said. “But once I knew I was the deciding match I think it kind of calmed me and I played better.”
She opened the third with a break to go up 1-0 and held a 3-1 lead. After dropping a game to make it 3-2, Chobanyan never looked back, taking the next three points to clinch the match, sending the Kats to the finals for the first time in school history.
“That was awesome,” she said about the win. “We have all dreamed about being in the finals and then winning the tournament. That is why we are here and why we have worked so hard this season.”
Fittingly, it was Southland Player of the Year Sahaja Yamalapalli who got the singles wins started for the Bearkats. She took care of her match at No. 1 in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 to set the tone for the afternoon. Roos Gerritsen won shortly after 6-3, 6-3 No. 5 to give the Kats the first two singles. Not long after that, Petra Kaszas also won 6-3, 6-3 putting the Kats one win away from advancing.
In the finals, the Kats will face the No. 3 seed Central Arkansas. The two teams meet in The Woodlands on April 6, with the Kats pulling off a 7-0 victory.
“We have been talking about connecting heart and mind,” Hubbard said. “We have the talent to do it, but it takes heart and mind and that spirit driving every one of our matches. If we are ahead or behind, we will fight and when the dust settles we will see where we are.”
The championship match will get started at 2 p.m.