FREMONT, Neb. – Head coach David DeSimone called this the most exciting match he’s been part of in his career as a player and young coach. With a chance to break new ground in regards to program history, the Concordia University women’s tennis team took GPAC regular season champion Hastings all the way to the wire on Saturday (April 27). The Broncos held off the Bulldogs, 5-4, in the conference postseason championship played at the YMCA in Fremont, Neb.
A day earlier, DeSimone’s squad picked up GPAC tournament wins over Midland and College of Saint Mary to set up the matchup with top-seeded Hastings. Concordia finished the 2019 campaign at 15-6 overall while breaking the school record for number of wins in a season.
“Our women competed really well today,” DeSimone said. “There was a lot of really good stuff going on out there on the court – a lot of encouragement from each other. We’ve been building towards that throughout the whole season. It was a really fun atmosphere and environment. I wouldn’t have it any other way than to have the match end with those two battling it out at No. 1.”
‘Those two’ were Marlene Maier of Concordia and Kelsey Brown of Hastings, two of the GPAC’s top players. The team scored was knotted 4-4 with Maier and Brown the only combatants left on the court. Owner of 17 singles wins this season, Maier got edged, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, in a classic tilt. Without Maier, the Bulldogs would not have been in this position.
The No. 5 singles clash also went to a third set. Concordia had to have it trailing 4-3 at the time. At that spot, Bulldog sophomore Allison Marshall rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the third set for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win. Concordia cleaned up in the back half of the lineup, also getting wins from juniors Kirsten Wagner at No. 4 and Angela Bell at No. 6. At the No. 2 position, sophomore Claudia Miranda Viera fell in three sets to her Bronco counterpart.
Concordia had a bit of a hole to dig out of after dropping two of three doubles matches. The combo of Bell and junior Lindee Schultz captured an 8-1 win at No. 3 doubles to keep the Bulldogs close. Hastings won at No. 1, 8-4, and at No. 2, 8-1.
At stake in this match was not only a GPAC tournament championship, but also an automatic berth in the national championships held in Mobile, Ala. This season proved that Concordia is not all that far off from a journey to Alabama.
Said DeSimone, “I’m excited about continuing to build and grow the relationships we’ve been making as a team. It’s brought us closer together. We made a lot of great progress this year.”