Johnson City, Tenn. - The fourth-seeded Stetson women's tennis team (14-7) nearly rallied all the way back from a 3-0 deficit but fell just short in a 4-2 loss to top-seeded North Florida (15-4) Saturday afternoon in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament semifinals at ETSU's Buddy Hartsell Tennis Center. Sophomores Diana Bukajeva (Riga, Latvia) and Lindsey Cable (Gainesville, Fla.) earned Stetson's singles points.
Bukajeva and junior Jen Miller (Tampa, Fla.) beat Rebecca Pereira and Simona Weymar 8-5 on Court 2 to start the doubles proceedings, but the Ospreys were able to pull off wins on the other two courts to go up 1-0 in the match. Cable and senior Shannon Gunning (Boca Raton, Fla.) put up a tough fight but were bested 8-6 by Melanie Aguirre and Danielle Day in the point-clinching Court 3 match.
Two straight-set wins left North Florida ahead 3-0 in short order, but the Hatters dug in their heels and didn't bow out without a strong fight. Bukajeva and Cable both rallied from a set down to win in three sets to close within 3-2 on the scoreboard. Bukajeva defeated Aguirre 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 on Court 4 while Cable knocked off Weymar 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Court 5.
The match was ultimately decided on Court 3 where Stetson junior Clarke Tatje (Eustis, Fla.) and Day engaged in a terrific three-set battle. Tatje won the first set 7-5, Day evened it up with a 6-4 win in Set 2 and the third set went all the way to a tiebreaker at 6-6 where Day was able to land the final blow and advance her Ospreys to tomorrow's championship match against second-seeded ETSU. UNF was 9-0 in A-Sun regular season play.
The Hatters are slated to return six of the seven players that played in today's match next season, including Second Team All-Atlantic Sun honoree Bukajeva.
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