Horn, Bulldogs go down fighting in GPAC semifinals

By Jake Knabel on May. 5, 2018 in Women's Tennis

FREMONT, Neb. – When the season ultimately came to an end on Friday night (May 4), members of the Concordia University women’s tennis team felt satisfied that they had exhausted all energy in their efforts to reach the GPAC championship match. After a heart pumping 5-4 victory over Doane in the quarterfinals, the fifth-seeded Bulldogs came up just short in their aim to knock off top-seeded Midland in the semis. The Warriors won, 5-3.

Fourth-year head coach Joel Reckewey’s squad concluded the year with an overall mark of 13-10. His team made a serious push for the program’s first GPAC final appearance since 2011.

“It was just a courageous effort from our women’s team,” Reckewey said. “We knew it was going to be a tough match going in. We had to have our ‘A’ game in order to win. In doubles we showed we were ready to go. A lot of our conference matches have been dogfights that have come down to the final match – and it did today. I couldn’t be more proud of the way the girls competed. They played their best tennis at the right time.”

In order to reach the evening semifinal contest in a tournament played at Fremont High School in Fremont, Neb., Concordia needed a valiant effort from junior Kayla Smock. With the team score versus Doane knotted, 4-4, Smock trailed 4-1 in the deciding third set. A herculean performance brought her all the way back for a match-clinching win. As Reckewey described it, Smock displayed “Bulldog toughness.”

The margin was also razor thin in the semifinals. The match turned at No. 2 doubles where Concordia’s Claudia Miranda Viera and Katelinn Wurm fell in a tiebreaker. Instead of being up 2-1 heading into singles, the Bulldogs found themselves in a hole. The Warriors clinched a spot in the championship by taking singles battles at the Nos. 2, 4 and 6 positions. Alison Ebel (No. 5) and Miranda Viera (No. 3) claimed singles wins while senior Annie Horn was still battling at No. 1 when the match went final.

The day marked the end of the career of Horn, a Denver, Colo., native who recorded the 41st collegiate singles win of her career by taking a 6-4, 6-2, decision over Ashley Zaeske of Doane. Ebel, Horn and Amanda VonSeggern were the three seniors on this year’s roster. It was a fine day on Friday for Ebel, who went a combined 3-0 between singles and doubles.

The Bulldog women’s program reached the GPAC semifinals for the third year in a row. In the previous two instances, Concordia had fallen in the semis by 5-0 scores.