Montgomery, Ala. - The College of Coastal Georgia women's tennis team advanced to the semifinals of the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament with a 5-3 victory over Lee University on Saturday before losing 5-0 in the semifinals to Brenau University.
The Mariners were supposed to open play in their first SSAC tourney on Friday but the opening match against Lee in the quarterfinals was delayed a day by rain.
The matchup between the two ranked teams - Coastal Georgia is rated 14th in the country and Lee is ranked 23rd - was the second this season between them. The Mariners won the first meeting 7-2 in Brunswick for their first victory in SSAC play. Lee was ranked 15th in the country at the time and the Mariners were unranked. But after that win over the Flames, the Mariners made their debut in the national poll when the next rankings were released and have remained in the national rankings ever since.
On Saturday, the Mariners didn't allow the Flames to avenge that earlier loss. Coastal Georgia won two of the three doubles matches to start the match for a 2-1 lead going into the six singles matches, where they took three of the first five that were completed to earn the five necessary points to clinch the overall match.
In doubles, Coastal Georgia's No. 2 tandem of Elektra Hunter and Kristina Polakovic won 8-6 while the No. 3 team of Sunshine Beba and Luisa Lopes rolled 8-2.
In singles, the Mariners got wins from No. 3 Nicole Faas, No. 4 Priti Rijal and No. 6 Luisa Lopes for the three points they needed to take the match. Beba did not finish playing her match at the No. 5 position since the team had already secured the match.
In the semifinals against Brenau - which had beaten the Mariners earlier this season in Brunswick - the second-ranked Golden Tigers took all three doubles matches for a 3-0 lead and then won the first and second singles matches to clinch the match with five straight victories. The rest of the matches were not played to their completion with the match already decided.
Brenau will play Auburn-Montgomery for the team championship with the winner advancing to next month's NAIA national tournament as the automatic qualifier.
The Mariners figure to have a good chance at earning an at-large bid to the national tournament as a top-15 ranked team, especially after improving their body of work with a second victory this season over a ranked Lee team in the conference tournament.