ROCK HILL, S.C. – After getting behind early in the doubles round, second-seeded Tusculum captured four singles matches en route to a 5-4 comeback win over fourth-seeded Newberry to clinch the 2014 Food Lion SAC Women's Tennis Championship on Friday at the Rock Hill Tennis Center, earning the conference's automatic bid into the 2014 NCAA Championships.
The Pioneers (22-2) seal their first trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 as they await their tournament fate following the Selection Show in late April. Newberry closes the tournament with a 17-8 overall record.
Following an 8-1 doubles win by the TC tandem of Emily Waters and Amanda Sumner at No. 3, Newberry's Marina Ziehe and Vanessa Ortiz got the Wolves on the scoreboard with a 9-7 victory over Erin Mills and Adrienne Kaye at the No. 2 position. With the match even at 1-1, Newberry took the lead into the singles portion as Susana Aguirre and Romina Adum captured a 9-7 triumph over TC's Kate Hutchinson and Kealee Heffner at the No. 1 slot.
Tusculum began its comeback in a hurry as Kaye and Heffner posted straight set victories at No. 5 and No. 4, respectively. Kaye defeated Ariel Strong 6-1, 6-1, while Heffner knocked off Tara Lamers 6-1, 6-0.
With TC taking the early lead, Newberry stuck back as Aguirre captured a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Baker at the No. 1 position, knotting up the overall score at 3-3. The win was Aguirre's third singles win of the three-day tournament.
After Sumner took a 6-4, 6-1 win over Ziehe at the No. 6 position, Newberry's Ortiz evened up the score at 4-4 with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 over Hutchinson. With the match on the line, TC's Mills clinched the match and the tournament championship by defeating Adum 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 at the No. 2 spot.
The tournament championship is Tusculum's second in its program's history and first since 2004. With her match-clinching victory, Mills was named the SAC Tournament MVP, becoming the first Pioneer to earn the honor since Brownyn Hartley 2005.