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Blue Raiders set to face Lady Jags in Sun Belt Championships

MT handed USA a 4-3 loss in February

April 19, 2012 · Athletic Communications
DENTON, Texas – The No. 3-seeded Middle Tennessee women’s tennis team will open its Sun Belt Championships competition at 8 a.m. Friday when it faces No. 6 seed South Alabama in quarterfinal action at the Waranch Tennis Complex in Denton, Texas. The Blue Raiders earned an opening-round bye, while the Lady Jags handed No. 11 seed Louisiana a 4-0 sweep early Thursday to advance.

“While we have enjoyed some success this season, we have put that behind us for the upcoming week,” said head coach Shelley Godwin. “Entering the tournament, the girls have a lot of confidence, but we know every match is going to be tough and we will have to be ready to fight from the first point. All season we have put ourselves in good positions to win matches and we will draw on that again this week.”

Middle Tennessee earned the opening-round bye for the first time in program history on the heels of its most successful campaign since 2000, posting a 14-6 record entering the tournament. The Blue Raiders did not have to compete on the event’s first day for the first time, although the No. 3 seed matches their highest in the tournament since 2004.

Godwin has directed the program to its most wins since 2000, an unbeaten home ledger for only the third time in school history and first since 1998 and an eight-match win streak from March 3 through April 3, the longest since 2000.

Along the way, four players have earned at least 20 combined fall and spring singles victories, led by 22 from sophomore Flavia Nagayama, the April 4 Sun Belt Player of the Week. Her weekly league honor came seven days after junior Yuiri Nomoto also garnered the hardware, marking the first time since 2006 MT received the nod more than once in a season.

Joining Nagayama with the stellar singles ledgers were senior Marietta Bigus, junior Lexi Brand and freshman Nayara Moraes with 20 wins apiece. Overall, five of the six primary singles players have tallied winning records, also including senior Taylor Coffey.

Each of the three doubles pairings that have played the last 12 matches own 7-5 marks; however, the top duo of Brand and Moraes has won its last four contests entering the tournament. Also with identical records are the tandems of Bigus and Nomoto, and senior Alex Dachos and Nagayama.

Middle Tennessee and South Alabama met during the regular season, a 4-3 Blue Raider triumph Feb. 5 in Mobile, Ala. The tightly-contested match came down to the No. 4 singles slot and Moraes battled through a three-set affair to clinch the MT victory. It was the third-straight win in the series for Middle Tennessee.

The winner of the Blue Raiders’ match will face the victor of No. 2 seed Denver and No. 7 seed Troy at 9 a.m. Saturday in the semifinals.

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