NORFOLK, Va. – It's been evident since the spring season began that the 2010 version of the Virginia Commonwealth University women's tennis was unique. From battling three top-40 teams in the first five matches, winning 11 straight at one point and picking up a late season win over 16th-ranked South Florida, these Rams were different.

On Sunday afternoon at the Folkes-Stevens Tennis Center on the campus of Old Dominion, the Black & Gold made that statement once again, picking up a dramatic 4-3 win over second-seeded William & Mary, to win the program's third Colonial Athletic Association title and a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"We've had a lot of good girls come through this program, but this group was special," Head Coach Paul Kostin said. "All year long they were focused and determined for to capture a championship. To see everything come together today is something I'll never forget."

The match was a nail-biter from the start with the Rams taking a 1-0 lead after an exciting doubles competition. William & Mary picked up the first doubles match with Lauren Sabacinski and Marlen Mesgarzadeh winning 8-3 at position three. The VCU tandem of senior Laura Burns (Hertford, England) and junior Kateryna Yergina (Kiev, Ukraine) evened the doubles up with an 8-5 win at position two.

The point was decided when freshman Josefin Hjertquist (Spanga, Sweden) and sophomore Ana Bara (Oradea, Romania) won the final four points in a tie-breaker to pull out a 9-8 (7-3) victory over Ragini Acharya and Katie Kargl at number one.

Burns would put the Black & Gold up 2-0 with an easy 6-0, 6-3 win at #4 singles, but the Tribe would win three straight singles matches to take the lead, 3-2. Steady sophomore Alex Bara (Oradea, Romania) evened the score with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-1) victory over Sabacinski at number five.

Then it was Yergina's turn as she battled hard and picked up a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 win over Carmen Pop at number three to clinch the title for the Rams, who were appearing in the CAA finals for the ninth straight year.

"This is a cumilnation of hard work by a lot of different people," Kostin said. "I'd like to particularly thank my staff who did an outstanding job all year long. I know what I'm going to get with [Assistant Coach] Yana [Carollo], she's always working to make our girls better and this year [Volunteer Assistant] Jakub [Petersson] joined us and he was phenomenal for us all season."

The Rams now have a couple weeks of practicing before learning their fate for the NCAA Tournament, which will be announced live on ESPNews on May 4th at 5 p.m.
#1 VCU 4, #2 William and Mary 3

#1 Ragini Acharya (W&M) d. Ana Bara (VCU), 6-4, 7-5
#2 Marlen Mesgarzadeh (W&M) d. Josefin Hjertquist (VCU), 6-2, 6-4
#3 Kateryna Yergina (VCU) d. Carmen Pop (W&M), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
#4 Laura Burns (VCU) d. Nina Vulovich (W&M), 6-0, 6-3
#5 Alex Bara (VCU) d. Lauren Sabacinski (W&M), 6-2, 7-6 (7-1)
#6 Anik Cepeda (W&M) d. Olena Leonchuk (VCU), 6-4, 6-4
Singles Order of Finish: 4, 2, 6, 1, 5, 3

#1 Hjertquist/Ana Bara (VCU) d. Acharya/Katie Kargl (W&M), 9-8 (7-3)
#2 Yergina/Burns (VCU) vs. Pop/Cepeda (W&M), 8-5
#3 Sabacinski/Mesgarzadeh (W&M) d. Alex Bara/Leonchuk (VCU), 8-3
Doubles Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1

February 13, 2010 RAMS ROLL PAST TEMPLE, 7-0