MOBILE, Ala. – For the second season in a row, the Lindsey Wilson women's tennis team will play for a national title as the Blue Raiders swept William Woods (Mo.) 5-0 in the NAIA National Championship Semifinals on Friday to advance to the championship round at the Mobile Tennis Center.
The 2017 title match will be a rematch from 2016 as the second-seeded Blue Raiders (22-4) take on defending champions and top-seeded Georgia Gwinnett on Saturday. Lindsey Wilson pushed the Grizzlies to the brink in 2016, tying the match as late as 4-4, but ultimately fell in their first appearance in the championship.
To make a return to the finals, the Blue Raiders had to go through an 11th-seeded William Woods (14-10) squad that had already completed a pair of upsets to earn a spot in the semis. The Owls previously upset No. 6-seeded San-Diego Christian 5-3, and then knocked off No. 3-seeded SCAD Savannah (Ga.) 5-4 to make the program's first-ever semifinal appearance
That upset run would come to an end though against a Blue Raider squad that already recorded a 5-0 win over William Woods earlier this season when the two teams met in the regular season back on March 6 in Columbia.
Friday's result would also be a 5-0 Blue Raider win, the third-straight 5-0 sweep at the national tournament for Lindsey Wilson.
Fiona Curty and Maria Prados Cid (ranked No. 7 in doubles) got things started as they dominated the top doubles flight with an 8-0 shutout of Felicia Cesar and Julia Mulder for the early 1-0 lead. Alex Shchipakina and Natalia Kattah followed suit with an 8-2 victory over Karyna Sagalai and Alba Salinas at the No. 3 doubles match to go up 2-0 overall.
The No. 2 doubles flight was more tightly-contested as Minja Gligic and Jovana Peric (ranked No. 23) took on Zlata Shuraeva and Chelsea Steward. After being tied early 2-2, the Blue Raider duo fell behind 4-2. But Gligic and Peric rallied and rolled off four-straight points to take a 6-4 lead, eventually edging out their Owl counterparts 8-5 to complete the sweep and give LWC the 3-0 match lead.
In singles play, it was Shchipakina (ranked No. 10) at the top matchup that made a 4-0 lead after beating Sagalai (ranked No. 16) in straight sets 6-2, 6-1, putting LWC within one point of clinching. That critical point came from Prados Cid (ranked No. 46) when she took down Salinas at the No. 3 singles match 6-0, 6-3, to send the Blue Raiders back to the national championship.
Gligic, Curty, Peric and Kattah were all up a set when the match was halted after LWC captured the decisive fifth point.
It marks just the second time in program history the Blue Raiders have advanced to the national championship match. They face an undefeated 25-0 Georgia Gwinnett team that defeated fourth-seeded Keiser (Fla.) 5-1 to claim the other spot in the finals.
The NAIA Women's Tennis National Championship is scheduled to begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Men's Tennis title match on Saturday from the Mobile Tennis Center.