The Long, and Short, Road to Nationals
The squad earning a trip to nationals marks the first time a Saint Leo University women's program has been able to break through the regional hurdle, as a team, to advance to national tournament competition.
For seniors Adrianna Daszkiewicz and Laura Kemkes, the journey has been long, but rewarding. The duo has put in four dedicated years to the program, and has helped the Green and Gold climb into the top ranks in DII.
The journey for those two seniors has been long, but they now make the short trip across Central Florida to Altamonte Springs, home of Sanlando Park and the 2014 National Championships.
Coming in at No. 6 on the latest ITA DII Women's National Rankings, the Lions' highest ranking in program history, they toppled No. 4 Lynn 5-3 in the South Region II Tournament, earning their ticket to advance to the Round of 16.
The Lions, who have the shortest distance to travel out of all of the teams attending this year's women's tournament, face a team who has to travel from one of the farthest distances. BYU-Hawaii, who automatically advanced to the tournament by way of a Pac-West Championship title, will be making the trip from Laie, Hawaii, approximately 4,730 miles away. It's a true battle of opposites: The team with the shortest drive, matching up with a team from one of the longest distances; and a team who is brand new to the tournament, squaring off against a squad who is no stranger to the national stage.
The Seasiders enter into the tournament undefeated, and have proven to be an unstoppable force throughout their 2014 spring campaign. For BYU-Hawaii, this is nothing new. They have been a Division II powerhouse since becoming an NCAA varsity program in the 1998-99 academic year, winning 467 matches and losing just nine matches in 15 seasons with the NCAA. Finishing within the top-three throughout those years, the Seasiders have earned seven national championships, beginning with their first title in 1999. The last time BYU-Hawaii won the DII National Title was in 2007 when they defeated West Florida 5-0 at Sanlando Park, home of the 2014 National Championships.
Currently, the Seasiders hold a 26-0 mark, and 25-0 record against Division II opponents, and have defeated seven nationally-ranked opponents, with the highest being then-No. 4 Hawaii Pacific on April 19 in the Pac-West Championship Finals.
Saint Leo and BYU-Hawaii do not have any common opponents this season, and will match up for the first time in the history of the two programs.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo women's tennis team in their post-season journey, be sure to visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.