Gold Nuggets' season ends with semifinal loss to Milligan
April 30, 2011
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Just call it a pause in the
recent success of the Xavier University of Louisiana women's tennis program.
Milligan defeated the Gold Nuggets 5-0 Saturday in the
semifinals of an NAIA National Championship qualifying tournament. That ended
Xavier's bid for a fourth consecutive appearance at next month's national
tournament, and it ended the Nuggets' season at 4-18 — a sharp contrast
to Coach Alan Green's first seven teams, which won nearly 70 percent of their
"We'll be back," Green said. "Recruiting for next season
is going well. We have some young talent coming back next season, and they're going
to improve. I expect us to return to form."
Xavier dropped out of the top 25 on March 22 after 44 consecutive
appearances dating to 2004, and the Nuggets won't appear the final top 25
for the first time since 2003. But Green said one important component never disappeared
"Our women played hard this entire year," Green said.
"I'm proud of each of them. The fight they showed will carry them in life, further than any amount of
wins could ever do."
Milligan (12-6) swept the three doubles matches — the closest
was Albany Kelly and Caitlin Conley's 8-6 victory over Carmen Nelson and Melissa DeLoach at the
first flight — and the Buffaloes clinched when Halie Winfrey beat freshman walk-on
Courtney Martin 6-2, 6-0 at No. 5 singles.
Two Xavier freshmen led their singles matches when the dual
ended. Amber Brown led Kelly 6-4, 2-2 at No. 2, and Nicole DeLoach, Melissa's sister,
led Celeste Carpenter 6-1, 4-3 at No. 4.
It was the final collegiate competition for Melissa
DeLoach, a four-year letterwoman and this year's team MVP, and Ashley McGill.
DeLoach trailed 6-4, 1-0 against Caitlin Conley at No. 3 singles when the dual ended.
McGill and Martin lost 8-4 to Jessie Rose Remegi and JoLynne Heidt at No. 3 doubles,
and Heidt beat McGill 6-1, 6-1 at No. 6 singles to give Milligan a 4-0 lead.
The Nuggets played the entire regular season with five
players, resulting in automatic defaults at No. 3 doubles and No. 6 singles against
opponents at full strength. The schedule was difficult too — half of the Nuggets'
losses were to NCAA Division I opponents, and there were four more defeats
against ranked NAIA opponents.
"We're not looking for any sympathy," Green said. "Like I said,
our women battled all year. We hope to be much better on the court next season, and
we'll try again to play as hard a schedule as we can. We'll look forward to
Milligan won 2-of-3 doubles matches against top-seeded and
18th-ranked Martin Methodist, but the RedHawks rallied for a 5-3 victory in
the championship dual and their first-ever berth at nationals. Martin Methodist
defeated Cumberland 5-2 in the other semifinal.