LAKELAND, Fla. – The Saint Leo women's tennis team (17-7), nearly overcoming a 3-0 doubles deficit, dropped a 5-4 heartbreaker to the No.12-ranked Rollins College Tars (13-10), in the third place match of the Florida Blue Sunshine State Conference Championships, Sunday afternoon from the Beerman Tennis Center in Lakeland.
The Lions posted four singles wins, but could not overcome the doubles start which saw them drop each of the three matches, including a pair of nine-point outcomes.
The Lions top-flight and second-flight tandems each had opportunities to put Saint Leo on top early, but a gritty Tars' bunch outlasted Saint Leo.
the top-flight doubles pair of Laura Kemkes and Emily Singleton dropped a 9-7 decision after owning a 7-4 lead, while Adrianna Daszkiewicz and Jeanette McDonald fell in a grueling, back and forth tiebreaker, 9-8 (8-6).
That did not deter the Lions from a strong singles effort however, as Saint Leo quickly tied the match with three dominating performances. Daszkiewicz got the ball rolling for the Lions as she blasted Mariana Salvador in consecutive sets, 6-2 and 6-0. Maria Benkirane continued to demonstrate her abilities as one of the top freshman in the conference as she bounced Elissa DeCampli, 6-0, 6-2. Meanwhile, Kemkes completely erased the deficit by routing the Tars' top-flight in straight-sets, 6-0, 6-2.
After Rollins grabbed a 4-3 lead with a victory at No.2 singles, McDonald, the Lions' No.4 slot player, won a three-set thriller, 6-1, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, to tie the match at four apiece.
Despite the team's best efforts, the Lions couldn't pull it out in the end as a gritty comeback attempt by Phoebe Di Leo came up just short in three sets. The junior responded well after dropping the first set,6-2, as she answered with a 7-5 win in the second. Holding a 4-3 lead in the third set, Di Leo harnessed all her energy but could not hold off Kayli Ragsdale at the No.6-slot as she fell, 6-4.
The Lions now wait seeding and venue location for the NCAA South Region Tournament. Stay tuned to SaintLeoLions.com for more information on the Lions in postseason.
For more on the nationally-ranked women's tennis team, visit SaintLeoLions.com.