HCAC Women's Tournament Preview: #2 seed Pioneers start semifinals on Saturday

Burton swinging

Indianapolis – After completing its best conference regular season run in five years, the Transylvania women's tennis team looks to continue an impressive 2018-19 season as it embarks upon the 2018 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference women's tennis championships this weekend at the West Indy Racquet Club.

The Pioneers put together a record of 6-2 against HCAC opposition this fall, good for a three-way share of second place in conference play. By virtue of producing the best set-by-set record of the three tied teams, Transylvania earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye for this weekend's tournament, which begins Friday.

The 6-2 HCAC mark serves as Transylvania's best record in conference play since the 2013-2014 season when the Pioneers also reeled off a 6-2 record.

Transylvania's run this year at the HCAC Tournament is slated to begin Saturday, September 20 at 1:00 p.m. as they face the winner of Friday's 3-6 seed match between Earlham College and Franklin College.

Guided by third-year head coach Kevin Calhoun, the Pioneers aim to continue what has been one of their best seasons this decade. "There are ups and downs to every season, and it's how a group responds to those that determines how the season ends up," analyzed Calhoun. "This group dealt with adversity in a positive manner, and that's why they finished where they did."

The Pioneers have been pushed into their season success by a group of youngsters, led by freshman Porsche Robinson, who has compiled a 5-3 conference record in singles and an 8-0 record in doubles along with fellow freshman Jessica Burton. Robinson has led the way for the Pioneers this year in No. 1 singles while Burton has performed consistently in the No. 2 doubles spot, putting together a 6-2 record in singles play. Another freshman, Alyssa Igyarto, has been a mainstay at No. 5 singles where she has put together a 7-1 record against her opposition to aid Transylvania's team effort.

Transylvania has also received balanced help from its veteran core, led by senior Kearstin Bruther and her 5-3 singles record in conference play, and junior Merrick Irwin, who has matched Bruther's 5-3 singles record in the HCAC.

The Pioneers carry a two-match win streak into Saturday's semifinal match and enter the HCAC Tournament having won the four of their last five. "We want to play well against the semifinal opponent, and carry the momentum of the past week into that match," added Calhoun.

The winner of Saturday's semifinal match advances into Sunday's HCAC Championship match, which will award the conference's automatic qualifying bid to the winning team.

Transylvania will attempt to win its first conference tournament championship since the 2011-2012 season when they commence play on Saturday.

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