BRISTOL -- Just when the Stetson women’s tennis team seemed down, the bottom of its lineup picked it back up.
Eveline Lepinay and Jen Miller both won their singles matches, which didn’t begin until everybody else had finished, giving the Hatters a 4-3 victory over Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic Sun Conference quarterfinals at the Country Club of Bristol.
“I had complete confidence in my five and six,” Stetson coach Pierre Pilote said. “They’ve done well all season.”
All four of Friday’s A-Sun matches, originally scheduled for the new courts at East Tennessee State, were moved indoors because of rain. They were played at the Country Club of Bristol and the Bristol Racquet Club.
When Florida Gulf Coast’s Elizabeth Means came from a set down to beat Stetson’s Lindsey Cable at No. 4, the Eagles were up 3-2 and needed to win just one of the two remaining matches, which started after the others were finished because there are only four courts under the CCB bubble.
Setson made quick work at No. 6 when Lepinay won in straight sets to make it 3-3.
That left it all up to the No. 5 match, where Miller survived Morgan Bechtel’s onslaught of moonballs to win 7-5, 6-3 and clinch the victory.
“It’s a great feeling,” Miller said. “I think everyone should get one of those matches before the end of their career, and I’m a senior now, so it felt really good. When Eveline just kicked butt real quick on the court next to me, she made me feel comfortable.”
Miller’s win allowed the fourth-seeded Hatters to improve to 10-9. Fifth-seeded Florida Gulf Coast finished 11-7, its first winning season in Division I.
“We worked hard all year for them to want that match,” Pilote said. “I think they all wanted to play that final match, and Jen Miller closed it. I’m very proud of her. She played her best tennis when it mattered.”
The Hatters earned a matchup against regular-season champion ETSU today at 10 a.m. The Lady Bucs (13-5) beat Stetson 7-0 at DeLand, Fla., during the season.
“Although it was 7-0, the scores were closer than the team score,” Pilote said. “Obviously, they’re the favorite. They’re playing at home in their new facility that we barely had a chance to hit on yesterday. So they are the favorite, but then we’ll see if we can cook up a surprise for them.”
Stetson was missing its No. 4 player, Cable, during the regular-season meeting with ETSU.
“They beat us pretty well in the regular season, but we didn’t have one of the girls so we feel like a team again,” Miller said. “I think we’re gonna do really well.”
The other women’s quarterfinal lasted more than six hours, and third-seeded USC Upstate narrowly avoided an upset by beating No. 6 Kennesaw State 4-3.
Allison Beeler rallied from what looked like certain defeat in the deciding match at No. 5 singles. After losing the first set, Beeler was trailing Kennesaw State’s Tamara Plocher 5-2 in the second before coming back to win 7-5. She then captured the third set by the same score, winning the final two games to help her team advance.
USC Upstate, making its first appearance in the tournament, improved to 13-7 and will take on second-seeded North Florida (14-4) in today’s 12:30 p.m. semifinal at ETSU.
The third-seeded Stetson men weren’t as fortunate as the women, as they fell 4-0 to No. 6 Lipscomb at CCB. It was the Bison’s first-ever win in the A-Sun tournament.
Lipscomb will take a 10-11 record into it’s semifinal against second-seeded ETSU (11-6), set for 5:30 p.m. today. The Bucs beat Lipscomb 7-0 earlier this month.
Top-seeded North Florida (14-7) will take on fourth-seeded Florida Gulf Coast (11-10) in a 3 p.m. semifinal. Gulf Coast beat USC Upstate 4-2 on Friday night.
The championship matches are scheduled for Sunday, with the women at 10 a.m and the men at 1 p.m. The ETSU men have won six consecutive A-Sun championships.