Storybook Finish Gives Horned Frogs Mountain West Crown
April 29, 2012
SAN DIEGO – TCU’s women’s tennis captured the Mountain West Women’s Tennis Championship in dramatic fashion Sunday, a 4-2 triumph over host San Diego State at the Aztec Tennis Center.
The 32nd-ranked Horned Frogs improved to 18-5 on the year and won for the 11th-straight time this season. Third-seeded San Diego State dropped to 12-14. TCU earned the Mountain West’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tennis Championship and will learn its destination Tuesday evening.
For TCU, it marked the fourth time it has won the Mountain West tournament crown (2006, 2009, 2010). After winning the Mountain West regular season championship as well, TCU swept both titles for the second time in program history (2006).
“It was really tough today,” TCU coach Dave Borelli said. “I thought we had them beat early. San Diego State made an amazing comeback. We were able to withstand the crowd and playing on their home courts. It’s been a long season, but we’ve still got a lot to accomplish. Hopefully we can do a lot of damage at NCAAs.”
After claiming the doubles point to open the match, TCU appeared to be in complete control as it quickly ran its advantage to 3-1 and picked up first set wins on two other courts. However, SDSU was able to force third sets at Nos. 2 and 4 singles.
No. 119-ranked Simona Parajova rolled through her first set at No. 2 singles, claiming a 6-0 win. Emma Cioffi of the Aztecs refused to go quietly, though, fighting off Parajova serving for the match to take the second set, 7-5.
In the third, CIoffi broke the freshman’s serve early to take a 3-1 lead, but breaks by Parajova in Cioffi’s next two service games made it 4-3 in favor of Parajova. The match finished on serve as Parajova hit a huge serve in the championship’s final point that Cioffi returned well long. In all, the Zvolen, Slovakia, native won 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 to spark TCU’s celebration on court two.
TCU’s top two doubles tandems from the year produced the doubles point once against for the Frogs as Gaby Mastromarino and Simona Parajova were first to strike, grabbing an 8-4 triumph at No. 3 doubles. They improved to 16-1 this spring as doubles partners.
No. 49-ranked Millie Nichols and Olivia Smith clinched the doubles point with an 8-4 win of their own on the top court. After SDSU’s Roxanne Ellison and Sierra Ellison broke to make it 4-all, the TCU tandem won four-straight games to give the Frogs a 1-0 advantage.
In all likelihood, Nichols and Smith clinched a spot at the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships as the league’s top-ranked doubles tandem. Overall this season, Nichols and Smith are 19-6, including an 11-3 mark in the spring.
After doubles play, Federica Denti extended the Frog lead to 2-0 with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Sierra Ellison at No. 5 singles. The Bellano, Italy, native controlled the match the entire way and improved to 15-5 this spring.
The Aztecs struck back to make it 2-1 with a win at No. 3 singles, but Mastromarino, TCU’s lone senior, responded to give TCU a 3-1 lead with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Kristin Buth at No. 6 singles. The Jupiter, Fla., native won her ninth match in a row.
Nichols won the first set 6-2 at court four and went to a tiebreaker that could have won the championship for the Frogs, but SDSU’s Alicia Aguilar claimed the breaker, 7-4. When Parajova clinched the title, Nichols was leading 5-2 in the final set. A win at No. 1 singles provided SDSU’s second point.
TCU returns to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship after missing the field of 64 a year ago. It will be the Frogs’ eighth appearance in the last nine years.
MATCH RESULTS – No. 1 TCU 4, No. 3 San Diego State 2
No. 1 – Julia Wais (SDSU) def. #78 Stefanie Tan (TCU), 6-3, 6-3
No. 2 – #119 Simona Parajova (TCU) def. Emma Cioffi (SDSU), 6-0, 5-7, 6-4
No. 3 – Laura Antonana Iriarte (SDSU) def. Olivia Smith (TCU), 6-4, 6-2
No. 4 – Millie Nichols (TCU) vs. Alicia Aguilar (SDSU), 6-2, 6-7 (4), 5-2, unfinished
No. 5 – Federica Denti (TCU) def. Sierra Ellison (SDSU), 6-1, 6-2
No. 6 – Gaby Mastromarino (TCU) def. Kristin Buth (SDSU), 6-2, 6-1
No. 1 – #49 Millie Nichols/Olivia Smith (TCU) def. Roxanne Ellison/Sierra Ellison (SDSU), 8-4
No. 2 – Alicia Aguilar/Julia Wais (SDSU) def. Federica Denti/Kelsey Sundaram (TCU), 8-5
No. 3 – Gaby Mastromarino/Simona Parajova (TCU) def. Emma Cioffi/Laura Antonana Iriarte (SDSU), 8-4
(1) TCU 18-5; National ranking #32
(3) San Diego State 12-14
Order of finish: Singles (5,3,6,1,2,U); Doubles (3,2,1)
Weather: 64F, overcast skies
TCU wins fourth Mountain West Women’s Tennis Championship title