NEWPORT, R.I. - Salve Regina University sophomore and co-captain Ana Gwozdz (Taunton, Mass.) has a habit that's tough to break. Getting behind early in matches seems to be a favorite thing to do. When she lost the first eight games in her No. 3 singles match today against Curry College's Lauren Chuha (Reading, Mass.), one might think Gwozdz had the match just where she wanted it.
Gwozdz rallied to win the deciding match in three sets (0-6,6-2,6-3) to give the fourth-seeded Seahawks a 5-4 win over the fifth-seeded Colonels. Salve Regina (8-4) advances to play top-seeded Nichols College, the defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) champion, in the semifinal round on Wednesday, October 19 (2 p.m.).
Curry (6-6) had won two of the three doubles matches to take an early lead, just the same way it happened in the regular season meeting on September 21. Sophomores Emily Mongello (Milton, Mass.) and Megan Mulrooney (South Boston, Mass.) took an 8-4 decision at first doubles for the visitors over Elizabeth DiFilippo (West Chester, Pa.) and Gwozdz.
Seahawk junior Shannon O'Brien (Gorham, Maine) and senior co-captain Nichol Stevens (Chester, Conn.) remained unbeaten at second doubles, 5-0, with an 8-4 score against Chuha and Kate Johnson (Beverly, Mass.).
Salve Regina's third doubles pair, Elizabeth Liguori (Westerly, Mass.) and Erica Shay (Concord, Mass.), had a better showing than in the regular season, but Curry's duo of Devin Curley (Marshfield, Mass.) and Elizabeth Zarkades (Beverly, Mass.) outlasted the Seahawks, 8-5.
"We played much better doubles today," said Seahawk head coach Ed Habershaw. "But Curry has been very strong in that area and put us in the same hole as in our meeting three weeks ago. We feel we have legitimate chances to win at each singles position so when Ana trailed a set and two games early, we were either leading or close in the other five singles matches."
Salve Regina won in straight sets at sixth singles with Liguori, who continues to lead the team in singles victories. Junior Karlee Walther (Natick, Mass.) put the Seahawks in the lead, 3-2, with a 6-1,6-0 victory at fifth singles over Johnson.
O'Brien inched the Seahawks closer with her straight-set win at fourth singles against Curry senior Kathleen Rush (Waterbury, Conn.).
Mongello won her match at second singles over DiFilippo while the remaining matches at first and third singles were being decided by a third set. Mulrooney tied the overall score at 4-4 when she recovered from dropping the second set at first singles to post a 6-0 score in the third set over Stevens. Stevens won a set and nine more games today than she did in the meeting on September 21.
Leaving the deciding match on Gwozdz' racquet. The 5-foot-11 sophomore, who led the Seahawks in three-set battles as a freshman, experienced only her second third set this season. In early September, she saved several match points against during a second-set rally from down 5-2 against Rhode Island College's Doris Belanger to eventually win in three.
Today, Gwozdz held serve to open the final set and then earned an immediate break of serve. The third game featured over a half-dozen deuce points before Chuha broke back. Both players held serve the next four games before Gwozdz broke to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the match. Chuha saved three match points against before her final stroke of the day settled into the net for the Seahawk victory.
Salve Regina advances to the CCC semifinal round for the second year in a row. The Seahawks are seeking an unprecendented 14th conference championship and will look to dethrone the Bison who defeated the Seahawks, 9-0, on September 13.
In between quarterfinal and semifinal action, Salve Regina players will participate in the New England Women's Invitational Tennis Tournament (NEWITT) hosted at three sites in Western Massachusetts - Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College (Oct. 14-16).
Tennis Match Results
Curry vs Salve Regina
10/11/11 at Newport, R.I.
(Leroy Avenue courts)
Salve Regina 5, Curry 4
1. Megan Mulrooney (CC) def. Nichol Stevens (SRU) 6-4, 3-6, 6-0
2. Emily Mongello (CC) def. Elizabeth DiFilippo (SRU) 7-5, 6-1
3. Ana Gwozdz (SRU) def. Lauren Chuha (CC) 0-6, 6-2, 6-3
4. Shannon O'Brien (SRU) def. Kathleen Rush (CC) 6-3, 6-2
5. Karlee Walther (SRU) def. Kate Johnson (CC) 6-1, 6-0
6. Elizabeth Liguori (SRU) def. Elizabeth Zarkades (CC) 6-2, 6-2
1. Emily Mongello/Megan Mulrooney (CC) def. Elizabeth DiFilippo/Ana Gwozdz (SRU) 8-4
2. Shannon O'Brien/Nichol Stevens (SRU) def. Lauren Chuha/Kate Johnson (CC) 8-4
3. Devin Curley/Elizabeth Zarkades (CC) def. Elizabeth Liguori/Erica Shay (SRU) 8-5
Curry 6-6; 4-4 CCC
Salve Regina 8-4; 5-3 CCC
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,5,4,2,1,3)
Official: Don Cortese T-3:11 A-74