Pioneers knock off 22nd-ranked North Georgia in spring opener

Pioneers knock off 22nd-ranked North Georgia in spring opener

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's tennis team opened its spring schedule Saturday afternoon with a 7-2 win over 22nd-ranked North Georgia at the Tennessee Tennis Club.

The Pioneers (3-1) won two out of three doubles matches and used a pair of three-set victories in singles to defeat the Nighthawks (3-1), who were ranked fourth in the ITA Southeast Region rankings, two spots ahead of the Pioneers.

In doubles, the Pioneer team of Annie McCullough and Caitlin McCullough defeated the Nighthawks' Felicia Baratta and Holly Bennett by a 9-7 score. Baratta and Bennett were ranked first in the region and seventh in the nation, while the McCulloughs are ranked fourth in the region and 20th in Division II.

At flight two, Tusculum's Franziska Funke and Katarina Majorova went to a tiebreaker before beating Vaishali Jorge and Emma Etelalahti 9-8 (7-5), while at flight three the Nighthawks' Cibeles Zuddy and Adrienne Bofinger edged the Pioneer team of Africa Mota and Amber Lackey by a 9-7 score.

In singles, the spotlight was on flight one where Majorova and Baratta squared off in a battle of nationally-ranked players. Majorova, ranked second in the region and 12th nationally, came away with the 6-1, 6-3 victory over Baratta, who is ranked 41st in the country in Division II and ninth in the region.

Annie McCullough brought the Pioneers closer to victory as the fifth-ranked player in the Southeast earned a 6-3, 6-3 win over Bennett at flight three. Funke, ranked 11th regionally and 47th nationally, delivered the clinching point with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win at flight two over Bofinger.

Tusculum won two of the remaining three singles matches, as Caitlin McCullough, ranked 15th in the region, downed Jorge 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1) at flight four and Angelica De Vincenzis beat Lexa Loden 6-2, 6-3 at flight six. At flight five, Zuddy went to three sets before defeating Mota 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

The Pioneers are scheduled to return to action on Saturday, March 3 at Bluefield State, beginning at 2 p.m.