Sydney Clarke and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers women’s tennis team experienced a 4-0 loss to the nationally 33rd-ranked Old Dominion University (ODU) Monarchs in the quarterfinals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Conference USA Championships on Friday, thereby ending their season.
Meanwhile, Jacobi Bain and the Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) Gold Rush punched their ticket to the National Association of Intercollegiate Association (NAIA) Tournament by winning the NAIA unaffiliated group tournament on Saturday, ending with a 4-0 win over the William Woods University Owls in Springfield, Missouri.
Clarke and the Blazers were coming off a 4-2 first-round victory over the Western Kentucky University (WKU) Hilltoppers at the Adams Tennis Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Monarchs was the top seed in the tournament and showed that prowess against the Blazers. The Blazers ended the season with an 12-11 win/loss record, staying above .500.
Clarke played at the number one doubles slot with partner Maggie White. They played against Yuliia Starodubtseva and Tatsiana Sasnouskaya, and tried to take down the 57th ranked doubles team, but in the end, the Monarch duo won 6-3. A win for the Monarchs in the number three slot gave them the doubles point.
In the singles portion of the matchup, Clarke faced Sasnouskaya. The match was unfinished as the Monarchs had already won three singles matchups for the 4-0 victory. In the first set, Clarke fell 7-5 in a tightly contested opening set. In the second set Clarke struggled a little as Sasnouskaya was up 5-2 before the match was suspended.
The day before, Clarke and White fared well in doubles with a 7-6 (7-2) victory over the Hilltoppers’ duo of Cora-Lynn vonDungern and Paula Cortez. They helped the Blazers to win the doubles point in that duel.
Clarke was in action in the number two singles slot. She went up against Laura Bernardos. The first set went to Clarke as she won 7-5. Bernardos got the better of Clarke in the second set, winning 6-4. In the third set, Clarke struggled as Bernardos won 6-1 to win the match.
In the end, the Blazers won three singles matches to win the matchup 4-2.
Bain and doubles partner Megh Patel lost 6-1 to the Owls’ Vaclav Schneider and Vitek Subert. Despite this loss, the Gold Rush won the doubles point.
The Bahamian then played at the number three singles spot against Patrick Shelepov. That match was unfinished as the Gold Rush had already clinched the victory. Shelepov won the first set 7-6, and they were deadlocked at three in the second set when the match was suspended.
The Gold Rush were dominant in that tournament, winning their previous two matchups 4-0, and then defeating William Woods 4-0. The Gold Rush came in ranked at number one in the tournament, it was their first championship since 2013. They took down Our Lady of the Lake and Missouri Valley after receiving a bye for the first round.
In the 2021-2022 regular season, the Gold Rush finished with a 19-5 record and a streak of eight straight wins to end the season. They were a perfect 8-0 at home on the season.
The NAIA National Championships is set to begin May 17.
Sierra Donaldson and the Lee University Flames (6-10) will kick off their NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference Championships on Thursday against Auburn University Montgomery at 3:30 p.m. That match will be played at the Lagoon Park and O’Connor Tennis Center in Montgomery, Alabama.
On Friday, Abigail Simms and the number one seeded Indiana Tech Warriors (15-1) will begin their defense of their 2021 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference title. That tournament will be played at the MVP Athletic Club – Crahen in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The Warriors are trying to secure an automatic bid for the NAIA National Championships.