While it probably wasn’t exactly where they had envisioned finishing at the 2012 NJCAA National Tournament, the Seward County Lady Saints still made it there and still competed tough, finishing in 23rd place as a team with two players winning their respective consolation brackets over the week of competition in Tyler, Texas.

Playing for the final time in Seward County green and white, Dariya Dashutina took her familiar spot in the #1 singles draw and fell 7-5, 6-1 in a close match to Justyna Wojcik in the opening round but didn’t pack her bags for the Ukraine yet. After getting two bye’s in the consolation bracket, Dashutina won her first match in the bracket easily 6-0, 6-0 over Madison Porter of Mesa to move onto the semifinals where she bounced DuPage’s Alexis Reisch 6-1, 7-6 (1) to advance to the championship match. In the title match Dashutina finished a champion, beating Alicia Domoney from Jones County 6-2, 6-0 to pick up another point for Seward and give herself the consolation title.
Sandri Munoz was the Lady Saints representative in the #2 singles draw. Playing in her first National Tournament, Munoz dropped her opening match 6-1, 6-2 to Autrey Bradley from Snead State and didn’t fare much better in the consolation bracket where she lost 6-1, 6-1 to Karen Ching of Abraham Baldwin to finish her tournament.
In the #3 bracket Katiuska Adarmes took the court for the Lady Saints and despite facing a tough draw in 5th seeded Ana Liera from Broward, just about pulled off the upset of the tournament as she took the first set from Liera in convincing fashion 6-3, before dropping the next two sets 6-3, 6-4 to lose the match. She rebounded from the tough defeat with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Rachel Jefcoat from Jones County and advanced to the consolation quarterfinals with a bye in the 2nd round. In the quarters she played a memorable first set with Ariana Raga from Cowley, losing 7-5, before Raga got the best of her 6-0 in the second set to win the match.
One year ago playing in the Kansas State High School tournament, Lady Saints freshman Susan Nguyen couldn’t fathom playing at the NJCAA National Tournament but that was the case in the #4 draw as the Liberal High School alumni squared off against Kelly Ponzio in the 1st round of the tournament. Ponzio knocked off Nguyen in straight sets 6-1, 6-3 to send her to the consolation bracket but Nguyen rebounded by making it to the consolation semi’s with a pair of bye’s followed by a 6-1, 6-2 win over Nea Krpo from Georgia Perimeter. In the semifinals Nguyen ran up against a buzz saw in 5th seeded Steffy Paez who was upset in her opening round match, but she held tough, batting Paez to a 6-1, 6-3 match before subsiding to the Seminole State star to finish in 3rd place in the bracket.
In #5 singles the Lady Saints sent Leticia Monteiro to the court against Oliva Cole-Encinas of Pima in the 1st round. Monteiro and Cole-Encinas battled long and hard in a tough match for both players but Cole-Encinas came out on the winning end of matching 7-5, 7-5 decisions to send Monteiro to the consolation bracket. Monteiro received two bye’s to push her along in the consolation draw and then faced a tough matchup in 7th seeded Asia Boyd from Georgia Perimeter who knocked her off 6-4, 6-3 in another good match to end her day.
Kurstie Zepeda, who led the Lady Saints in points during the 2012 season would be their representative in the #6 singles bracket. Zepeda matched up in the 1st round with 7th seeded Lindsay Hodgdon of St. Petersburg and gave Hodgdon a scare. Hodgdon won the first set 6-3 before the feisty Zepeda bounced back with a 6-2 win in the second to even things up at 1-1. Hodgdon went on to win the match with a 6-1 win in the deciding set and Zepeda was bounced to the consolation bracket. Zepeda shined in the consolation draw, winning her opening match 6-0, 6-1 over Alecia Vasquez of Pima and drew a bye to move onto the quarterfinals. In the quarters, she took care of Erica Pope from Seminole State 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals where she had no problem with Meagan LeSueur from Mesa, winning 6-1, 6-2 to reach the championship match. In the title match, Zepeda again out willed her opponent, beating Julian Saunders of Abraham Baldwin 6-1, 6-4 to secure the championship and give the Lady Saints another much needed point.
In #1 doubles action Dashutina and Adarmes took center stage for the Lady Saints. The duo’s first matchup was against Jordan Carter and Chanel Cunningham of Abraham Baldwin and it didn’t go well for Seward. Carter/Cunningham won the first set 6-1 and backed it up with a 6-2 win in the second to send Dashutina/Adarmes to the consolation draw. Two bye’s to start the back draw moved Dashutina/Adarmes to the quarterfinals where they beat Alicia Domoney and Stephanie Smith of Jones County 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the semi’s. In the semifinals they squared off against Joanie McMahon and Alexis Reisch of DuPage and breezed by them 6-0, 6-2 to get a shot at Seward’s third consolation bracket title. In the championship match they took on Ivanna Echezuria and Jessica Halterman from Meridian and took control early with a 6-2 opening set win. In the second set, with the match on the line, the Seward pair was within arm’s reach of victory a number of times but couldn’t finish the deal as they fell 7-6 (4) to force a deciding third set. In the rubber match, the two teams again battled to the end before Echezuria/Halterman outlasted Dashutina/Adarmes 7-5 to win the match 2-1.
The All American team of Nguyen and Zepeda represented the Lady Saints in #2 doubles for the tournament. The first assignment for the two was Sharron Clark and Regan Perme of Collin County who defeated them 6-2, 6-1 to drop them to the consolation draw. This time there was no second wind for the Lady Saints in the consolation bracket as Nguyen/Zepeda fell 6-2, 7-6 (6) to Alex Poole and Katie Sharpton of Snead State to finish their tournament in the 1st round.
The same fate was held for the Lady Saints duo of Monteiro and Caitlin Workman in the #3 doubles draw as they fell in their opener 6-4, 6-0 to Erika Kranz and Jennifer Lee of Lake County before losing 6-3, 6-3 to Lindsey Elrod and Alyssa Phillips of Snead State to end their year.
The host team, Tyler, came out on top of the yearly event, taking home their third straight National Championship while Region VI members Cowley and Johnson County both finishing in the top 15 with the Tigers finishing 4th and the Cavaliers in 15th.