Clarke, Simms earn all-conference honors

Simms and the Warriors now preparing for the NAIA Women’s Championships

Bahamian collegiate tennis player Sydney Clarke was awarded for her performance this past season in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I tennis as she was named to the Conference-USA (C-USA) All-Freshman Team. The announcement was made on Monday by the C-USA office.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers’ freshman was not the only Blazers player to receive conference honors. Her teammate Dominika Hrabalova was named to the All-Conference Singles Second Team.

Clarke had a phenomenal 2021 season as she finished with a 16-5 win/loss record. She plays primarily in the number four spot for her team and held a 9-2 record playing at that position in singles. Clarke had an almost perfect record in conference play, finishing with a 5-1 mark. Three of her five losses on the season came against opponents from what is regarded as tough conferences – the Southeast Conference (SEC) and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

“I am very happy for both Dominika and Sydney,” said Blazers’ Head Coach Mark Tjia. “They are definitely deserving of the recognition. They worked very hard and had excellent seasons. They, along with Annalisa Smith and Megan Bertrands, had some of the better individual records in recent memory.”

Overall, the Blazers had a good season. They finished the season with an overall record of 14-7 that included going 3-1 in conference play. They went 7-1 at home, were 5-5 away and 2-1 on neutral territory. The Blazers’ 14 wins was their most in 16 years, during the 2004-2005 season, at which time they finished 14-6.

The Blazers’ 2020-2021 season ended when they fell 4-0 to the Old Dominion University Monarchs in the C-USA Women’s Tennis Tournament on Friday April 23. In that matchup, Clarke won the first set of her singles match against Alezya Yakubovich, 6-2, and the second set was tied 4-4 before the game was forfeited as Old Dominion had already clinched the dual. In the doubles, Clarke and her doubles partner, Smith, fell 6-3 to Holly Hutchinson and Tatsiana Sasnouskaya.

For Bahamian Abigail Simms, she and the Indiana Tech Warriors punched their ticket to their first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Women’s Tennis Championships. They did it by winning their first Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Women’s Championship, defeating the University of Northwestern Ohio Racers, 4-2, in the final on April 30.

Simms did not play singles but her and doubles partner Ana Gomez won their doubles match against Neo Mafuyeka and Veronika Kovalchuk, 6-4.

The number 18 seeded Warriors finished the regular season with a 17-2 record and were 5-0 in conference play. They ended the season as winners of six straight duels.

Simms and doubles partner Isidora Hrnjak earned WHAC All-Conference Doubles honors, finishing the season 6-3. The Grand Bahamian was also recognized for her play, making the All-Conference First Team.

The NAIA Championship is set for May 18-22 at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Alabama. The Warriors will open play against the number 15 ranked University of the Cumberlands Patriots on Tuesday, May 18, starting at 8.30 a.m.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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