ANDERSON, S.C. – After posting back-to-back South Atlantic Conference victories to begin the week, Anderson University women’s tennis will begin a stretch of three matches in four days on Thursday when it travels to SAC rival Catawba at 2 p.m., followed by a trip to Wingate on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
With a 7-2 triumph over Lenoir-Rhyne on Tuesday, Anderson moved over .500 for the first time this season, as it improved to 6-5 overall while carrying a 5-2 conference mark. Currently, AU joins Newberry as the only two teams in the league with two setbacks as the conference continues to chase undefeated Wingate (7-0) and Tusculum (6-0).
Winning their last three matches, the doubles team of senior Avery Owens and junior Karen Ching has won their last three matches, including one of AU’s three points against GRU Augusta on March 21. In the singles round, Ching, who started the 2014 campaign with a 4-1 record, dropped her second straight match against L-R, falling to 6-5 for the season. Owens, who got off to slow start, has captured seven of her last eight matches, improving to 7-4 on the year.
Freshman Rebecca Bruning posts the best singles winning percentage for the year, boasting a 9-1 record with all of her wins coming in straight sets. Bruning is currently on a seven-match winning streak and had dropped just six games in her last two matches.
Sophomore Nikkola Wichenko has captured seven of her last eight matches at the No. 6 position, while she and Alexandra Ebner have won five of their last six doubles matches at the No. 3 position. Junior Lindsay Gregory has won five of her last six singles matches at the No. 5 slot, while she and Bruning match that total in the doubles round at No. 2.
With just three matches remaining on the 2013-14 schedule, Catawba enters Friday’s match one game below .500 on the season at 11-12 and 3-6 in the league. Most recently, the Indians have dropped three of their last four matches, headlined by a 6-3 win over Lenoir-Rhyne on March 27.
Leading the squad with wins is Olivia Myers who has seen action in four different positions on the year. Myers is 13-6 with a 6-3 mark at the No. 5 spot, but has dropped two of her last three, capped off by a three-set setback to Lincoln Memorial’s Aura Penalosa at the No. 6 position.
Maddy Henderson and Lauren Sledd both carry identical 9-11 records for the season, while Catawba has used 13 different doubles teams throughout the fall and spring schedule.
The Series vs. Catawba
Since joining the SAC in 2011, Anderson has defeated Catawba three times as the Indians have scored a combined three team points in the three meetings. Last season, the Trojans came away with a 9-0 blanking over Catawba at the Max Grubbs Memorial Courts.
With a match with Lincoln Memorial scheduled for Friday, Wingate is a perfect 7-0 in SAC play with a 14-4 overall record, as the Bulldogs were ranked No. 38 in the country in the latest ITA Poll. With its win over Mars Hill on Monday, WU has strung together 21 straight conference victories over a three-year span. Currently, the ‘Dogs are on a four-match winning streak.
No. 4 player Layla Tanik is an impressive 13-0 at her projected position and 15-2 overall. Tanik has captured 15-straight victories and is a perfect 7-0 in conference matches.
Teammate Becca Thomas is 6-1 in SAC matches this season and 9-7 overall while playing all but one match at the No. 3 spot. At the No. 2 slot, Caroline Holland has nine wins including a four-match winning streak.
The Series vs. Wingate
Anderson has failed to knock off the Bulldogs since joining the conference in 2011. In the postseason, Wingate has eliminated the Trojans in every SAC Tournament AU has been a part of. Last season, the ‘Dogs recorded a 7-2 win in Anderson, followed by a 5-3 win over the Trojans in the SAC Tournament championship match.