Francis Marion tennis swept by top-ranked AASU

Cameron Tindal, Sports Writer


The top-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University men’s and women’s tennis teams swept both the 10th-ranked Francis Marion University women and the 27th-ranked Patriot men by scores of 9-0 in Wednesday, April 3 in Peach Belt Conference matches.

Despite taking such dominating losses, FMU Head Coach Garth Thomson was optimistic and spoke positively on his team’s effort.

“Armstrong is the number one team in both men and women in NCAA Division II,” Thomson said.“I felt that once we got used to their tennis ball, we played better as a team in the second set in singles and towards the end of the doubles matches. Both of their teams are terrific and we did the best we could on the day.”

The Patriot women had to take on this colossal matchup without the much needed services of injured All-American Mona Blauen and injured freshman Nora Westbye. Both players play a huge role on the FMU team. The wounded Patriot women (19-2, 10-2) watched their 12-match winning streak disappear by the hands ofAASU, the defending NCAA Division II national champions, who improved to 20-1 and 12-0.

Coach Thomson did not make any excuses for losing the match, even without the two stars.

“Without Mona Blauen and Nora Westbye plus Kerry Hall in singles, it makes it tougher to beat anyone, especially the number one team in NCAA Division II. They were also missing their number one player, but with both of our teams at full strength, they would still be very difficult to beat. The women’s tennis team is 19-2 and we have had a wonderful season. The women are motivated to reach the final of the Peach Belt tennis tournament next week and try to host the NCAA Regional Tennis tournament.”

FMU freshman Lena Specht (17-1) suffered her first singles loss of 2013 in the matchup as she dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision to 23rd-ranked Olga Kalodzitsa at the number four position.

The Patriot men fell to 12-6 overall and 3-6 in the PBC, while the Pirate men improved to 17-1 and 9-0 in their unrivaled quest to repeat as Division II national champions.

Coach Thomson said he was very confident in his team’s mental state as they get closer to the NCAA tournament.

“The men’s tennis team is battling for an NCAA tournament spot,” Thomson said. “They have a shot at it, but they know that their next few matches will decide their future, so that is their motivation for the rest of the tennis season.The loss is unfortunate, but I believe both of my tennis teams will move forward and learn from this loss.”

The Patriot men played host to Concordia College in non-conference play, while both FMU squads hosted their respective Senior Days on against Flagler College on the Kassab Courts. Both FMU tennis clubs have been pursuing tournament entry and success.