ORU Downs IPFW, 4-3, for Summit League Title
The Summit League title is ORU’s first since 2009 and breaks IPFW’s two-year hold on the conference crown. The victory clinches an NCAA Tournament spot for Chris Milliron’s team.
Khatsko scored a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 win over Henestrosa to secure the title for ORU (13-5). The senior’s win capped a furious comeback started by Marizanne Bouwer, who took a 7-5, 7-5 win over IPFW’s Frederique Sunstrum at the No. 5 spot after ORU had fallen behind, 3-2, on the overall scoreboard.
The Golden Eagles started the day by winning the doubles point. Lina Semenova and Haley Martin took the top flight match, 8-3, over Marcy Huck and Caterina Kiefer, while Khatsko and Kristin Gray demolished Henestrosa and Alex Forsyth at the second spot, 8-2.
But the Mastodons (18-11) flipped the switch once singles play started. Kiefer rallied IPFW with a 6-4, 6-2 victory at the fourth spot over Gray before Semenova won on the second court, 6-2, 6-2, over Huck.
The ‘Dons took the lead with the next two victories. Forsyth clipped Tori Dollar on the sixth court, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, to tie the match at 2-all. The loss was the first of the season for Dollar against a Summit League foe.
ORU trailed for the first time at the completion of the third-flight match, where Raquel Vescovi took down Martin, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.
But falling behind did not phase the Golden Eagles. Bouwer’s razor-thin victory at the fifth spot set the stage for a classic finish. Khatsko dropped the second set to Henestrosa almost simultaneously, setting up a winner-take-all third set between the Summit League’s two best talents.
Khatsko owned the moment with her 6-1 set victory, sparking a jubilant celebration with the clinching point.
The Summit League Tournament title is the eighth in the history of the ORU women’s tennis program.
The Golden Eagles now await the announcement of their NCAA Tournament foe. The NCAA Women’s Tennis Tournament field will be announced on Tuesday afternoon at 4 pm CT.