JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 2nd-seeded FGCU women’s tennis team (8-6) defeated the North’s top-seeded Liberty Lady Flames (18-7), 4-3, to advance to the ASUN Championship final for the fifth time in program history (2015-17, 2019).
The Eagles will take on the South’s top seed UNF Ospreys Saturday at noon. The match will be streamed on ESPN +. FGCU will be seeking its first ASUN title as each finals meeting has come against North Florida.
“Each time we compete, it’s another step and another opportunity to grow,” said head coach Courtney Vernon. “Tomorrow we are looking forward to battling with everything we have and enjoying another opportunity to compete.”
FGCU found itself in a 1-0 hole after dropping the doubles point but soon gained momentum as Ida Ferding (Vastera, Sweden/Akademi Bastad Gymnasium) tied the match 1-1 taking court No. 4 (6-3, 6-1). Liberty answered back taking court No. 3 but FGCU reeled off two straight victories to jump ahead, 3-2. Alba Retortillo (Leon, Spain/ La Anunciata) fought back after dropping her second set (6-0, 1-6, 6-3) on court No. 6 as Emma Bardet (Vichy, France/Long Beach State) snagged court No. 2 in straight sets (7-5, 6-2).
The Lady Flames kept the pressure on the Eagles and tied the match, 3-3, with a victory on the top court but Sofia Perez (Alajuela, Costa Rica/Florida Virtual) put all that to an end claiming court No. 5. The senior battled it out in her first set, 7-6 (7-5), then taking her final set, 6-4, to send FGCU to the finals.
FGCU is now 4-0 all-time against Liberty.
1. Alexandra Almborg (LIBERTY) def. ORNBERG, Maja (FGCU) 7-6 (7-5), 7-5
2. BARDET, Emma (FGCU) def. Tiffany Nguyen (LIBERTY) 7-5, 6-2
3. Esther Lovato (LIBERTY) def. NORIN, Fanny (FGCU) 6-3, 6-1
4. FERDING, Ida (FGCU) def. Micaela Ode Mitre (LIBERTY) 6-3, 6-1
5. PEREZ, Sofia (FGCU) def. Grace Hashiguchi (LIBERTY) 7-6 (7-5), 6-4
6. RETORTILLO, Alba (FGCU) def. Eloise Saraty (LIBERTY) 6-0, 1-6, 6-3
1. Alexandra Almborg/Eloise Saraty (LIBERTY) def. BARDET, Emma/ORNBERG, Maja (FGCU) 6-3
2. Tiffany Nguyen/Micaela Ode Mitre (LIBERTY) def. PEREZ, Sofia/FERDING, Ida (FGCU) 6-4
3. RETORTILLO, Alba/NORIN, Fanny (FGCU) def. Esther Lovato/Grace Hashiguchi (LIBERTY) 6-0
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,3,6,2,1,5)
For up-to-date coverage of FGCU women’s tennis, follow us on Twitter @FGCU_WTEN and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com where full recaps and results will be available.
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HEAD COACH COURTNEY VERNON
FGCU’s women’s tennis team is led by three-time ASUN Coach of the Year Courtney Vernon (8th season) who led the Eagles to back-to-back ASUN regular-season crowns in her fifth season in 2018. She has mentored her student-athletes into earning 59 ASUN All-Conference and All-Academic honors, including 2014, 2016, and 2017 ASUN Freshman of the Year as well as the 2016, 2017 and 2019 Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the 2018 Player of the Year. Vernon has led the Green and Blue to an 85-63 overall record (.574) and 36-10 conference record (.782).
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 85 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 13+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of D-I postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 40 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 21, 2020-21), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2021) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general University undergraduate population for 23 consecutive semesters. The 2019 Fall, 2020 Spring, and 2020 Fall semesters each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural