Fernald secures clinching point in third set against Elon to secure 27th CAA title

William & Mary defeated Elon in the championship match to win its 27th CAA Championship on Sunday, May 1. COURTESY IMAGE / TRIBE ATHLETICS

 William and Mary (13-8, CAA 5-1) traveled to North Carolina last weekend where the team captured its 27th Colonial Athletic Association title. The Tribe defeated host school Elon (17-9) 4-1 in the finals to secure the championship title.

The College started their tournament play on Friday, April 29, by convincingly dispatching No. 7 seeded Towson (9-13, CAA 1-5) 4-0 in the quarterfinals.

The win over Towson began with the Norwegian duo Hedda Gurholt and Ine Stange winning their doubles match 6-0. Juniors Raffaela Alhach and Elisa Van Meeteran then secured another doubles point with a 6-2 win, their first at the No. 1 position. 

Moving into singles, Alhach wasted no time in her matchup, winning the first two sets 6-1 and 6-3 over senior Jessica Assenmacher. This marked Alhach’s 17th win of the season. Gurholt followed with her 22nd win of the season, winning in straight sets (6-2, 6-0) on line two.

The Tribe secured victory after Stange, playing on line six, bested Towson freshman Sissi Axelsson 6-3, 6-2. This marks her fourth straight victory and third time clinching a win for the Tribe in their last four matches.

The Saturday semifinals saw an inspiring display from senior Mila Saric to lift the Tribe to a 4-3 win over No. 3 seeded Delaware (19-6, CAA 3-2). 

William and Mary found themselves in a 2-0 hole early on after losing the doubles’ point and falling to the No. 4 position. Gurholt started to mount the Tribe comeback by winning 6-1, 6-4 on line two, her second win in the tournament.

Just as in the quarterfinals, Alhach and Stange followed Gurholt with wins of their own in the No. 3 and No. 6 positions, respectively. The trio earned three much needed points to put them up 3-2 on the day.

After Delaware won the No. 5 singles match, it all came down to the No. 1 match between Saric and junior Eliza Askarova on line one. The two exchanged 6-4 sets, bringing the entire match down to one set. Saric, the reigning William and Mary player of the year and No. 121 nationally ranked player, closed out the series by defeating Askarova 7-5 to send William and Mary to the finals of the CAA Championships. 

The Tribe started off hot Sunday morning against Elon with Saric teaming up with freshman Emma Fernald to claim the first point in doubles on line two. The duo did not drop a set en route to their 6-0 sweep of Elon senior Victoria Saldh and junior Julie Ball.

In the No. 3 match, Stange and Gurholt increased the Tribe lead by defeating senior Olivia Archer and sophomore Alison O’Dea. Both doubles teams improved to 5-2 for the season on their respective lines.

Transitioning to singles matches, in the No. 3 match, Alhach made quick work of Saldh with 6-0, 6-3 scores to win her fourth match in a row. The junior picked an important time in the season to become hot, winning all three of her matches in the CAA championships and improving to 19 total wins for the season.

Stange also picked up another crucial point for the Tribe, defeating junior Shauna Galvin 6-3, 7-5 to secure her third singles victory of the tournament and sixth straight. The rookie is now 16-8 overall on the season. Even more impressively, she is 7-1 on line six, making her a staple in the position for the team.

With the Tribe ahead 3-0, they had three remaining matches and of these only needed one more point to be crowned conference champions. Fernald would provide this final point in her comeback win over O’Dea on line five.

After suffering defeat in the first set, the Tribe freshman made no mistake in the second and third, winning them 6-1 and 6-3, respectively. Fernald’s victory marked her 19th of the season.

Head Coach Jessica Giuggioli wrote she is looking forward to the upcoming games.

“We had a great weekend of matches at Elon,” Giuggioli said. “Winning the Championship was a true team effort, and we couldn’t be more excited to be competing in the NCAA tournament this coming weekend.”

The Tribe will face #6 NC State in the first round of the 2022 DI Women’s Tennis Championship. The match will take place at the Raleigh Regional, which is set for Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8.


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