Brenau tennis players Maya Mammetgulyyeva, from left, Paula Rives Palau, Fatyha Berjane, Rebecca Pijls, Kirsten Dickins and Patricia Recalde Pacua huddle together before the beginning of singles play during a SSAC Women's Tennis Championship semifinal match against Middle Georgia State University on Friday, April 22, 2016 at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala. Brenau won 5-2. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Brenau University’s tennis team came in second place at the 2016 Southern States Athletic Conference Championship April 23. The No. 6 nationally ranked Golden Tigers return to Mobile, Alabama, May 15 for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship.

Tennis Finishes Second at Conference Championship

April 26, 2016

MOBILE, Alabama, April 26, 2016 – The No. 6 nationally ranked Brenau University tennis team finished second in the Southern States Athletic Conference Championship April 23, losing only to NCAA-bound Auburn University-Montgomery.

The Golden Tigers’ sole victory in the 5-1 finals came in doubles competition. SSAC Women’s Tennis Player of the Year Fatyha Berjane, a senior from Casablanca, Morocco, and sophomore All-Conference selection Patricia Recalde Pacua of Asuncion, Paraguay, defeated Paula Diaz and Anna Rudolfova of the Warhawks 9-7.

“Our conference is one of the toughest in the NAIA, so we knew going in it would be very difficult,” said Brenau Head Coach Andre Ferreira. “AUM is a very talented team, and I am very pleased with the improvements our girls have made.”

Prior to matches against AUM, the Golden Tigers shut out Martin Methodist 9-0 in the tournament quarterfinals April 22 and beat Middle Georgia State College 5-2 in semifinals play April 23.

Ferreira said he is especially impressed by the doubles play of freshman Kirsten Dickins of London, England, and sophomore Paula Rives Palau of Barcelona, Spain, who “really rose to the occasion” after struggling earlier in the tournament. The Golden Tigers head coach also praised freshman All-Conference player Rebecca Pijils of Beek, Netherlands, for her performances in singles competition.

“Every match was a little different,” Ferreira said. “I was pleased with our No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, they played super and very well in singles, too.”

Brenau currently possesses a 16-6 record and will return to Mobile May 15 for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championships. Since the team is likely to remain ranked No. 6, if not higher, in the NAIA national polls, the Golden Tigers could receive a first round bye in the championships. Although Ferreira said the field is stacked with fierce competition, he also believes this year’s squad has enough depth to at least make it to the quarterfinals.

“We are going to have good preparation over the next two weeks going into the championships, and our girls will play more relaxed,” he said. “We are talented enough to upset some teams, but that’s going to require us to play our very best.”

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