49ers Fall at NCAA's; End Season at 19-7
WESTWOOD--No. 37-ranked Long Beach State Tennis (19-7) made it a match, after a slow start, forcing three third sets, only to fall 4-0 to No. 28-ranked Denver (23-2) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on the campus of UCLA.
The No. 53-ranked doubles team of Hannah Grady and Stephanie Bengson, who just missed competing in the NCAA Doubles Championships, defeated No. 43-ranked Julia Bauregger and Mallory Voelker 8-2 in the top doubles match of the day. The duo finished at 22-8, the second-most wins during a single-season.
The Pioneers though, won the other two doubles matches to take the first point of the match, before winning five of the first singles sets. The 49ers though battled back to force three third sets and had Grady serving for a fourth when the match ended at 4-0.
Julia Bauregger clinched the match for Denver, defeating Big West Freshman of the Year Stephanie Jeanes 5-7, 6-3 and 6-1, as 49ers Deborah Armstrong at the No. 3 position and Jessica Weeks at the No. 5 position also reached third sets.
Senior Stephanie Bengson dropped her final singles match, finishing her career with a record 148 combined wins, breaking the stalemate with Sandra Rocha (147) with the doubles win. Bengson re-injured her back in her two-set loss to Annette Aksadal 6-2, 6-2, but continued playing despite obvious pain to finish her singles career at a record 73-36.
The other singles win went at the No. 6 position when Bhavani Tirumurti defeated Lisa Sutton, 6-3, 6-4.
Grady (26-9) will continue her season at the NCAA Singles Championship starting on May 21, two wins shy of the single-season record. The No. 82-ranked 49er dropped the first set to No. 70-ranked Mallory Voelker 6-4 and was serving at 6-5 in the second when the match ended.
The 49ers were competing in their sixth NCAA Tournament in seven years, winning the Big West title for the fifth-straight time. Five of the team's six players will return in 2008-09, with three of them being just sophomores.