Back-to-Back GSC Champs: 2012 UWF Women's Tennis Season Review
In 2012, the UWF women’s tennis team overcame injuries to capture its 12th Gulf South Conference Championship. The Argos, who also won the conference title in 2011, advanced to the regional finals of the NCAA Championships. Besides the team success that UWF saw in 2012, numerous Argos also garnered individual awards.
“I was very pleased with the performance of both teams this year,” said UWF women’s and men’s tennis head coach Derrick Racine. “We practiced very hard to prepare for each match, and it really showed in our performance. I felt neither team had a let down at any point in the season."
The Argonaut women opened the year ranked No. 8 in the nation in the preseason rankings. UWF junior Luiza Sonnervig (Sao Paulo, Brazil) was ranked No. 11 and senior Barbara Oliveira (Belo Horizonte, Brazil), who medically redshirted in the spring of 2011 due to an injury, was ranked No. 17 nationally in singles. Oliveira and Caitlyn Baines (Fort Walton, Beach) were listed as the No. 14 doubles team in the nation in the preseason rankings.
UWF recorded a 7-2 victory over No. 10-ranked Florida Southern in its spring season opener. The Argos fell in their next three matches, including a 9-0 blanking at the hands of No. 3-ranked and eventual national champion Armstrong, before returning to winning ways with a 9-0 victory over Lander at home. The Lander match started a seven-match winning streak for West Florida. The Argos opened Gulf South Conference (GSC) play on March 8th with a 9-0 win over Christian Brothers in Pensacola. The match was the first of four conference matches that the Argos would win in a four-day span.
UWF’s 9-0 blanking of No. 35 Midwestern State on March 16th started UWF’s string of six matches in eight days. All six matches were against non-conference opponents. The Argos fell at No. 3-ranked Lynn, 2-7, and No. 2-ranked Barry, 0-9, on March 19th and 20th, respectively. West Florida bounced back the following day and recorded a 6-3 victory over South Region foe and No. 10-ranked Rollins. The Argos tallied victories over four ranked opponents – No. 35 Midwestern State, No. 26 Nova Southeastern, No. 10 Rollins and No. 42 Central Oklahoma – during the eight-day time span.
The Argos entered the end of March with a 10-5 overall record and a 4-0 record in conference play. UWF finished out the month by defeating No. 16 Georgia State and College and No. 21 UC San Diego, while dropping a 2-7 decision to No. 1 BYU-Hawaii in Pensacola. The match against UC San Diego would start an 11-match winning streak for UWF. The Argos got their fifth conference victory on April 1st when UWF defeated Delta State, 6-0.
UWF had five regular season matches remaining in April before the GSC Tournament. On April 5th, the Argos, who moved to No. 9 in the March 28th rankings, blanked Northeastern State, 9-0. The following day, UWF defeated conference foe West Georgia, 9-0, and No. 13 Grand Canyon, 5-4. In their fourth match in three days, UWF defeated Valdosta State, a GSC opponent, 6-3 in Pensacola. In UWF’s final regular season match, the Argos defeated New Orleans on the road, 6-3. The match against UNO had been postponed multiple times throughout the season due to weather. The victory over New Orleans gave the Argos a perfect 8-0 record in the GSC and the No. 1 seed in the GSC Tournament.
With a perfect regular season conference record and No. 1 seed in hand, the Argos opened the GSC Tournament with a 5-0 victory over Christian Brothers. West Florida cruised into the finals after defeating West Alabama, 5-0, in the semifinals. UWF clinched its 12th GSC Championship and became back-to-back GSC Champions with a 5-2 victory over Valdosta State in the finals of the GSC Women’s Tennis Championships.
With the GSC title captured and riding a 10-match winning streak, the Argos awaited their fate in the NCAA Championships. West Florida was selected as the No. 3 seed in the South and was sent to Boca Raton to compete in NCAA South Regional #2. UWF’s South Regional semifinals match was postponed two days due to rain. Once the weather cleared, the Argos won their 11th straight match with a 5-3 victory over No. 19-ranked Florida Southern. The Argos were set to face No. 4-ranked and No. 2-seeded Lynn in the regional finals. The Argos, who fell to Lynn earlier in the regular season, saw their season come to an end as Lynn defeated UWF, 5-1. For the fourth straight year, UWF’s season ended in the regional finals. The Argos finished the year with a 22-6 overall record.
The UWF women’s tennis team received numerous awards from the GSC. Oliveira, who anchored the Argos at the No. 1 position and went 4-1 against regular season GSC competition, was named the GSC Player of the Year. Racine was named GSC Coach of the Year for the eighth time. Oliveira, UWF freshman Sheila Smiley (Richmond Hill, Ontario) and Mariana Sonnervig (Sao Paulo, Brazil) all garnered All-GSC First Team accolades. Baines received her third All-GSC Second Team honor. Six Argos were honored for their success in the classroom. West Florida senior Naomi Higa (Córdoba, Argentina) was named to the GSC All-Academic Team. She was also listed on the GSC Academic Honor Roll with Fernanda Amaral (Curitiba, Brazil), Jacqueline March (Santa Rosa Beach), Smiley, Luiza Sonnervig and Mariana Sonnervig.
The Argos finished the year ranked as the No. 9 team in the nation and No. 3 in the South Region. Oliveira was the No. 29 singles player in the nation and ranked No. 8 in the South Region. Baines and Smiley, who teamed at the No. 1 doubles line for the Argos most of the season, ended the year as the No. 16 doubles team and No. 6 in the South Region.
"The women had a great year. We accomplished our goal to repeat as the GSC Champions," stated Racine. “Over the course of the season, we had a few injuries that could of proved fatal to a lot of teams, but the depth and effort of all the girls showed as we once again finished among the nation’s top 10. They played the whole season with a lot of fight and represented UWF in great fashion." For information on all UWF Athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.
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