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May 4, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ga. - The championship match at the Mid-Atlantic Regional of the 2007 NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Tournament could not have been any closer and it was fitting that the match hinged on a tiebreaker. USC Upstate's Maria Herrera (pictured) gutted out a 7-5 victory in the third set tiebreaker to give the ninth-ranked Spartans a 5-4 victory over seventh-ranked Columbus State and a trip to the NCAA Division II Nationals in Altamonte Springs, Fla., May 9-12.
Upstate improves to 21-5 on the year and advances to the 16-team Division II Finals for the first time in school history. Columbus State ends its season with a 19-9 record. The two schools had previously split their two matches this season with Upstate taking a 5-4 victory in Columbus during the regular season and Columbus State winning 5-4 in the semifinals of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament in Augusta.
Herrera and partner Diana Martinez teamed to take an 8-3 victory at No. 3 doubles to give Upstate a point in the match. It would be the only doubles match that was won with relative ease. Columbus State tied the team match when Daniela Castillo and Erin Reynolds managed to pull out an 8-6 victory at No. 2 doubles over Upstate's Anna Novo and Vivian Neuenschwander. Columbus' Raluca Moldovan and Agata Polcyn and Upstate's Susana Hernandez and Daniela Lovera were locked in a tense duel at the No. 1 position. The match went into a tiebreaker and the Cougar tandem was able to win the tiebreaker 12-10 and take the 9-8 victory and a Columbus State 2-1 lead into singles action.
In singles play, Novo evened the match at 2-2 with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Moldovan at the No. 1 position. The Spartans opened a 3-2 lead when Hernandez claimed a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Polcyn at the No. 2 slot. Columbus State got back even in the match when Reynolds took a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Neuenschwander at the No. 6 spot.
The team match hinged on three three-set finishes. Lovera gave Upstate a fourth team point with a gritty 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Gabriela Vasilescu at the No. 4 position. Columbus State drew even at 4-4 when Roxana Dondera took a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 victory over Martinez at the No. 3 slot, leaving a berth in the NCAA Nationals up to Herrera and Castillo at the No. 5 position.
Hererra claimed an easy first set, taking the frame by a 6-1 score. Castillo countered with a 6-2 victory in the second set to force the match to a deciding third set. In the third set, both players battled back and forth before heading to a tiebreaker. Herrera fought hard and took a 7-5 victory in the tiebreaker to win the third set, 7-6, and deliver the match to Upstate.