The University of Charleston women’s tennis team had a quick and simple day in advancing out of the first round of its NCAA Atlantic Regional bracket. The Golden Eagles understand it won’t be as quick or as simple Tuesday if they want a berth in the Division II national tournament.
UC blew past Shaw University 4-0 on Monday at the Charleston Tennis Club. Action is scheduled to return to the Schoenbaum tennis courts in Kanawha City, weather permitting, on Tuesday. There at 2 p.m., Charleston will face Salem for that national berth. Salem defeated West Chester in the other side of their bracket.
The morning match will feature another Kanawha County team looking for a national tournament spot. West Virginia State, which had a first-round bye as the top seed in the Atlantic Region, will face Mercyhurst at 11 a.m. at the Schoenbaum courts. Mercyhurst defeated Slippery Rock in the first round to advance.
The two matches Tuesday decide which two teams move on to Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Florida as two of 16 national tournament entrants.
Rainy weather moved Monday’s matches in Charleston’s bracket to the Charleston Tennis Club. The fact that Shaw only brought four players put the Golden Eagles far ahead from the start. Shaw forfeited two singles points and gave UC a one-match advantage for the doubles point.
Charleston swept the other two doubles matches — the duos of Kristine Gegeshidze and Katie Swann and Elise Edwards and Silvana Slusarciuc picked up wins there — to earn that point, so the Golden Eagles needed just one more win in singles play to advance. That came with Swann’s 6-0, 6-0 win over Siria Dibe at No. 2.
“We were hopeful we would come out strong and get on and off the court,” UC coach Shari Reed said.
The Golden Eagles have handled both Shaw and Salem easily in the regular season. UC beat Shaw 6-1 earlier this year and has beaten Salem twice, 5-2 and 7-0. There’s a need to guard against complacency, especially when so much is at stake, but Reed said she hasn’t had to give a lot of speeches about it. Her roster is veteran enough to understand the stakes.
“It’s one-and-done now,” Reed said. “I have a group of seniors whose goal last year and this year, it’s always been getting to nationals.
“They’ve helped keep the rest of the team inspired because of their will and their wish to go on to nationals. I’ve had to do some, but not much because of the leadership on this team.”
The Golden Eagles have enjoyed so much success so far — packing the All-Mountain East teams and winning a share of the MEC regular season title — and don’t want the fun to end. Reed doesn’t want it to end, either. This is her last season at Charleston’s helm, as she will retire to focus on her other role as the athletic department’s senior women’s administrator and director of development.
“I want to go out on top,” she said. “Everyone wants to go out at the top of their game. A trip to nationals would be icing on the cake. What we’ve accomplished this year ... the only thing left is a trip to nationals and see how we fare there.”