ATLANTA, Ga. - After a lengthy rain delay, the Agnes Scott College tennis team (10-4, 6-0 GSAC) was finally able to play their Great South Athletic Conference final on the campus of Emory University, using a strong outing by several players, including Tournament MVP Taylor Lee, to down Salem College (8-8, 3-3 GSAC) for the third time this season, winning the tournament when Maddie Hoffman finished off the match in singles against GSAC All-Conference performer Kerri Morgan of Salem, 6-3, 6-2.
"Our team has worked so hard this year," commented head coach T.J. Greggs, "and I could not be more proud of the way that they all responded to this tournament. We came out fighting today, and didn't let anything stop us from our goal."
In the doubles, the Scotties raced out to big leads at all three spots, as Camille Wilson and Nikki Langford continued their dominant season at the No. 3 spot, winning easily, 8-1, over Allie Watkins and Ayla Pruitt of Salem. Hoffman and Lee also ran past their opponents, raising their season record at the No. 2 spot to an impressive 12-2, downing Deanna Wilkins and Ashley Koehler, 8-2. Senior captains Anne Rinaldo and Claire Rinaldo also looked like they would race to victory, but some scrappy play by their opponents, Andrea Akers and Morgan, helped Salem rally from a 7-3 deficit and take down the Agnes Scott duo, 9-7.
"Salem's top doubles team really fought their hearts out in that match," commented Greggs, "and I can't say anything but 'good job' to them for never giving up out there. It was a very entertaining match and both teams had a lot of opportunities."
In the singles, the Scotties wanted to leave no doubt about the outcome, as five of six singles players raced to first set wins over the Spirits. No. 6 Anastasia Bennett continued her impressive run this season, raising her record to a perfect 7-0 in singles, downing Ayla Pruitt for the third time this season, 6-2, 6-0, to give the Scotties the 3-1 edge in the team scoring.
"Anastasia has quietly put together one incredible season for us," continued Greggs. "She is a two sport athlete (volleyball), so she missed the fall season, so she had some catching up to do before getting into the singles lineup. I have been so proud of the way she has stepped up and fought all season."
In one of the upsets of the day, No. 4 Lee stormed to a 6-0, 2-0 lead against Wilkins, who had twice defeated her during the regular season. Wilkins would fight back to bring the second set even at 4-4, before Lee's power game was too much for Wilkins to handle, and the First-Year player took out Wilkins, 6-0, 6-4.
"Taylor 100% deserves the Tournament MVP award she received," commented Greggs, "as she fought very hard out there, and played BY FAR the most complete match of the season for her."
With three Scottie players racing toward victory, Hoffman was the first to complete her match and give the Scotties the fifth and deciding match, taking down Morgan at the No. 2 spot to give the Scotties another GSAC Tournament Title and a bid to the NCAA Tournament. It is the sixth time in the past seven seasons that the team has won the tournament and qualified for the NCAAs, but the first for Coach Greggs.
"I am just really excited to get this win," said Greggs, "and I will start thinking about the NCAA Tournament on Monday. Right now, I just want our team to celebrate a very successful season and conference tournament."
The Scotties, who are riding a 9-match winning streak, will find out their NCAA destination on Monday, May 4 at noon.