LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Armstrong Atlantic State University senior Kathleen Henry captured a second-set tiebreaker to lift the No. 3-ranked Pirates to their seventh NCAA Division II Women's Tennis National Championship in a 5-2 win over top-ranked BYU-Hawaii on Saturday morning at the Top Gun Tennis Academy in Louisville, Ky.
The Pirates completed an undefeated season, going 29-0 in winning their fourth NCAA DII Women's Tennis title in the last five seasons. BYU-Hawaii - gunning for their eighth title - suffered their first loss of the season and fell to 29-1. The two teams now are tied for the most DII women's tennis titles in NCAA history with seven.
BYU-Hawaii got out to a very quick doubles lead and took No. 1 doubles behind the top-ranked doubles duo of Annie Hwang and Sherry Liu, 8-1, over second-ranked Barbora Krtickova and Aleksandra Filipovski. The Pirates got their first doubles point at No. 3 doubles as No. 17-ranked Kathleen Henry and Clara Perez notched an 8-5 win over Marika Kobayashi and Tanja Rebholz, then the No. 11-ranked duo of Marlen Hacke and Olga Kalodzitsa convered a late break to come up with an 8-5 win over No. 5-ranked Yuan Jia and Marietta Tuionetoa at No. 2 doubles and give Armstrong the crucial 2-1 lead heading into singles play.
Armstrong got off to a fantastic start in singles play, winning five of six first sets in the singles matches. No. 30-ranked Clara Perez picked up the first point in singles with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Marietta Tuionetoa at No. 6 singles, then No. 21-ranked Marlen Hacke notched a 6-1, 7-6 (4) win at No. 5 singles put the Pirates just one singles match away from the title.
BYU-Hawaii did not go down quietly. Top-ranked Hwang prevailed in a Top 10 battle at No. 1 singles with a 6-3, 6-1 win over No. 6-ranked Barbora Krtickova, and the Seasiders rallied for a second set win at No. 2 and No. 3 singles.
That's when Henry, down 5-3 at one point in the second set, battled back with a break to force a tiebreaker. Henry raced out to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak, then watched a shot go long on match point from BYU-Hawaii's Tanja Rebholz for a 7-2 victory in the tiebreaker and the national title for the Pirates.
The appearance in the national championship was the 15th for the Pirates and the other national championship titles came in 1995, 1996, 2005 and 2008-10.