SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2007
Women's tennis claims A-Sun title

April 22, 2007


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Entering the 2007 General Shale Atlantic Sun Conference Championship, the JU women's tennis team had one goal in mind - win three matches to claim the title.

The Dolphins wrapped up their quest on Sunday morning, knocking off host and No. 2 seed East Tennessee State, 4-2, to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Jacksonville (19-3) won its 16th straight match behind the powerful play of its top three - Emese Sulyos, Lena Willi and Tatiana Soldatova. Sulyos and Willi were undefeated during the tournament in both doubles and singles play.

"I am so proud of the team and what they have been able to achieve this season," said JU head coach Jarod Camerota. "The team fought hard all season and to win the title is icing on the cake."

Sulyos, who claimed her 15th straight singles win and teamed with Willi for fifth straight double win, was named tournament MVP after being voted A-Sun "Player of the Year" for the second time in her career.

Emese Sulyos rips a backhand en route to 2007 A-Sun Tournament MVP honors

"I really didn't expect because they are so many good players in this tournament," Sulyos said. "I was surprised, but I was really, really happy because its my senior year."

Willi, who ran her singles winning to streak to 16, also earned all-tournament team honors as well.

"Emese and Lena are the two upperclassmen - they are our leaders and our rocks," Camerota said. "They have lost twice in singles and just once in doubles all season, and I can't be any more proud of either one of them. Hopefully the freshman can learn from their example."

The match opened with JU winning the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. Sulyos and Willi teamed for an 8-3 win in the No. 1 doubles match over ETSU's Masha Illina and Olya Batsula. In the No. 2 match, Soldatova and Iva Jaresova knocked off Yevgeniya Stupak and Elena Volobueva, 8-4, to seal the point for JU.

"We knew it was going to be very hard and very close - that we had to focus on each point," Willi said. "It's hard for the nerves. Everybody did very well."

In the singles play, JU's top three was able to top ETSU's top three to seal the match. Sulyos knocked off Stupak, 6-3, 6-1, in the No. 1 match while Willi beat Illina, 6-4, 6-2.

Soldatova, one of the unsung heroes of this team after entering the tournament with a 15-4 record, picked up the clinching point for JU with a 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 win over Batsula.

ETSU was able to stay in the match with wins at No. 5 and 6. Volobueva won the No. 5 match, 7-5, 6-2, over JU's Fernanda Jaresova. In the No. 6 match, the Bucs' Vita Moskaliova beat Cristina Paiva-Flor, 6-3, 6-2.

The Dolphins now await their draw for the NCAA Tournament, which will be unveiled on May 1 between 2:30 and 3 p.m., on ESPNews.

"First, we're going to take a week off for finals and then evaluate it then," Camerota said. "Obviously, we're playing to win. It's not going to be easy. We fought everybody all season, so I don't see this being any different."

The Dolphins celebrate the 2007 title after Tatiana Soldatova's win at No. 3 singles.

No. 1 Sulyos/Willi (JU) def. Ilina/Batsula (ETSU) - 8-3
No. 2 Soldatova/Jaresova (JU) def. Stupak/Volobueva (ETSU) - 8-4
No. 3 Carrero/Paiva-Flor (JU) vs. Byrne/Stewart (ETSU) - DNF
No. 1 Emese Sulyos (JU) def. Yevgeniya Stupak (ETSU) - 6-3, 6-1
No. 2 Lena Willi (JU) def. Masha Ilina (ETSU) - 6-4, 6-2
No. 3 Tatiana Soldatova (JU) def. Olya Batsula (ETSU) - 7-6(9-7), 6-3
No. 4 Iva Jaresova (JU) vs. Tara Byrne (ETSU) - DNF
No. 5 Elena Volobueva (ETSU) def. Fernanda Jaresova (JU) - 7-5, 6-2
No. 6 Vita Moskaliova (ETSU) def. Cristina Paiva-Flor (JU) - 6-3, 6-2