For the first time in program history, the St. John’s women’s tennis team is the winner of the Big East Championships.
The Red Storm defeated Depaul 4-2 on Saturday afternoon in Cayce, S.C. to claim its first conference title.
“I remember as a player how badly you wanted to be there at the end holding the trophy,” said St. John’s head coach Lauren Leo, who played for the Red Storm from 2003-07. “We finished in third place one year when I was a player, and we had a crack at it last year losing in the finals. This year, we wanted to show who St. John’s is…And we took care of business.”
St. John’s jumped ahead early as Olaya Inclan Solis and Irina Preotescu won at second doubles, and then Jessica Livianu and Zofia Stanisz won at first doubles to clinch the doubles point for the Red Storm.
Kajsa Stegrell would win at sixth singles, and Livianu won her match at first singles to push St. John’s within one victory of the conference championship.
The clinching match would come on the second singles court. After winning the opening set, Solis erased a 2-5 second-set deficit to force a tiebreaker, and took it 7-6 to secure her victory and seal the St. John’s win.
Solis clinched all three victories over the weekend for the Red Storm, and as a result was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“She prepared for this, she trained really hard. We attacked her weakness in practices, and she came out and wanted to show what she developed this year,” said Leo of Solis. “She put it all together today; she has nerves of steel.”
St. John’s now qualifies for the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and will find out who and where it will be playing during Tuesday night’s selection show.