NSU Women’s Tennis Named ITA All-Academic Team, 10 Others Selected as Scholar-Athletes

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Following a historic run to the Final Four on the court this past season, the Nova Southeastern women’s tennis team has since added multiple accolades off the court after being recognized by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) as a 2022 Division II Women’s ITA All-Academic Team.

Additionally, 10 NSU players were named ITA Scholar-Athletes, including: Zala Dovnik, Diane Follin-Arbelet, Eva Goncharov, Caitlyn Khan, Nika Kozar, Kashmira Manohar, Celia Montero Estevan, Chantal Nosievici, Julie Razafindranaly and Karolina Snita.  

In order to qualify as an ITA All-Academic Team, programs must have earned a team GPA of 3.20 or above (on a 4.00 scale), while ITA Scholar-Athletes must have met a minimum requirement of a 3.50 GPA throughout the 2021-22 academic year. As a team, the Sharks posted a collective GPA of 3.79.

“Out of all our team’s accomplishments this year, this one might be the best,” said NSU head coach Doug Neagle. “These student-athletes have incredibly busy schedules. To have your team, along with 10 of 11 players, earn these prestigious awards is outstanding. I am so proud of everyone and want to give a big thank you to Rachel Fineberg and Deanna Rivero in our Academics department. They do a great job year in and year out!” 

Overall, 110 NCAA Division II women’s tennis programs were awarded the All-Academic Team distinction, with 715 student-athletes named ITA Scholar-Athletes.

For a complete look at the 2022 Division II Women’s ITA All-Academic Teams, click here.

The entire list of ITA Scholar-Athletes can be found here.

To stay up-to-date with the Sharks, visit NSUSharks.com or follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_WTennis.

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Former All-AAC Performer Fatya Bizhukova Joins NSU Women’s Tennis Program

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Eager to build upon the program’s first-ever run to the Final Four this past spring, head coach Doug Neagle and the Nova Southeastern women’s tennis team have already begun to reload the roster having officially announced the signing of former Wichita State standout Fatya Bizhukova on Friday.

Bizhukova has one year of eligibility remaining.

“Fatya brings a lot of college experience having competed in some big-time college matches,” said Neagle. “More importantly, I feel she will be a great teammate! I’m excited to work with her and can’t wait for her to meet her new team. She has lofty goals for our team and I’m confident she’ll make an immediate impact!”

Bizhukova proved to be a focal point of Wichita State’s success throughout her three years within the program, posting a combined record of 46-28 in singles and a mark of 54-30 in doubles. During that span, she reached as high as No. 36 in the rankings in singles and No. 16 in doubles, and was a four-time, all-conference selection – twice in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) and twice more in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) after the program switched leagues. Bizhukova individually qualified for the NCAA Singles Championships in 2018 and the NCAA Doubles Championships in 2019, while the Shockers collectively earned back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths in both 2017 and 2018.

To stay up-to-date with the Sharks throughout the offseason, visit NSUSharks.com or follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_WTennis. 

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Sharks Capture Combined Four ITA All-America Honors

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Nearly three weeks removed from its historic run to the Final Four, the Nova Southeastern women’s tennis team is still making headlines, as the Sharks recently earned a combined four All-America honors by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).

Awarded to the student-athletes that finished within the Top-20 of the final ITA singles rankings and within the Top-10 of the final doubles team rankings, the NSU trio of Natalie Espinal, Julie Razafindranaly and Nika Kozar were each recognized for their singles play, while both Espinal and Chantal Nosievici were selected as doubles All-Americans.

The Sharks’ three ITA singles All-Americans are the most of any team in NCAA Division II.

“It is so nice to see three of our players being named as singles All-Americans, as well as one doubles team,” said NSU head coach Doug Neagle. “There are so many great players out there in DII, so this is quite an honor for our players named to this prestigious list. This team cared for and supported each other daily, so these accolades speak for every player on our team! Congrats to Natty, Julie, Nika and Chantal.”

All four players proved instrumental in guiding NSU to a program-record 25 wins and to its first-ever trip to the Final Four in 2021-22.

Espinal garners her third consecutive singles All-America honor after rattling off 19 straight wins to finish the season with a record of 22-1. Of her 22 victories, nine came against nationally-ranked opponents, propelling her to a final ranking of No. 2 in DII.  

The SSC Athlete of the Year, Razafindranaly posted a record of 18-3 this past season while competing primarily at No. 1 for the Sharks. The native of France collected eight wins over ranked opponents en route to wrapping up the year ranked as the No. 4 singles player in the nation.

Kozar sparked NSU during its postseason run, winning all four of her singles matches in the NCAA Tournament on her way to concluding the season with a record of 14-5. She posted a record of 2-0 against nationally-ranked opponents and ended the year on a 10-match win streak to finish ranked as the No. 13 player in DII.

Espinal and Nosievici capture their first doubles All-America award together after closing the year ranked as the No. 3 duo in the nation. During 2021-22, the two competed as the top doubles team for the Sharks, tallying 15 wins in 18 matches including a perfect 6-0 mark in SSC action. Espinal and Nosievici were also named First Team All-SSC.

To view the complete list of All-Americans, click here.

To stay up-to-date with the Sharks throughout the offseason, visit NSUSharks.com or follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_WTennis. 

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National Semifinalist Sharks Secure No. 2 Spot in Final ITA Poll

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The finishing touches were put on a historical season for the Nova Southeastern women’s tennis team Friday, as the Sharks were selected No. 2 in the final Division II Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Team Rankings – marking the highest final ranking in program history.

“It’s great to see our team recognized for its entire body of work,” said three-time Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year, Doug Neagle. “We played a very tough schedule, so it’s nice for these ladies to be recognized with a final No. 2 national ranking. They set their goals high and put in the work to achieve these goals. Many people want the awards and accolades, but don’t want to put in the work. This team put in the work and fought for everything they could. More importantly, they loved and supported each other all year. Without this chemistry, our season doesn’t go as well as it did. I’m so happy for this group and will miss our seniors!”

This past spring, the Sharks ripped off a record of 25-4, setting a new single-season, program record for wins – 12 of them coming against Top-25 competition. Their 25th victory propelled them into the Final Four for the very first time, as the program had previously never advanced past regional action. NSU began the season at No. 4 in the polls before spending its first-ever stint at No. 1 in the month of March.

Individually, NSU was led throughout the year by both Natalie Espinal and SSC Athlete of the Year, Julie Razafindranaly, who checked in at No. 2 and No. 4 in the final singles rankings. Nika Kozar joined the group at No. 13, while Second Team All-SSC performer Karolina Snita wound up at No. 35.

Espinal, along with Chantal Nosievici, grabbed the No. 3 spot in doubles, followed by Kozar and Zala Dovnik at No. 21 and Dovnik and Razafindranaly at No. 48.  

To view the complete rankings, click here.

To stay up-to-date with the Sharks throughout the offseason, visit NSUSharks.com or follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_WTennis. 
 
 

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NSU’s Historic Run Ends in Final Four

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Nova Southeastern women’s tennis team watched its historic season come to a close on Friday, as the fourth-seeded Sharks fell to top-seeded Barry by a score of 4-0 in the Final Four of the NCAA Division II Championships. The Sharks finish the year with a record of 25-4.

INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: Barry 4, Nova Southeastern 0
Records: Barry (27-0), Nova Southeastern (25-4)
Location: Sanlando Park | Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_WTennis | Instagram – @NSU_WTennis

NEAGLE’S NOTES:
“These ladies made history this year and I am so proud of each and every one of them,” said NSU head coach Doug Neagle. “It’s never easy to come this far and lose, but we made it to the Final Four in the entire country. We didn’t reach our ultimate goal of that national championship, but the journey is what it’s all about. These ladies are going to have unbelievable memories for a lifetime. The bond they share is incredible. In all my years coaching, I’ve never seen a team this close that loves and supports each other the way they do. I am lucky to be their coach!”

HOW IT HAPPENED:

DOUBLES:

Order of Finish: 1, 3
 
SINGLES:

Order of Finish: 1, 4, 5

UP NEXT: 
To stay up-to-date with the Sharks throughout the offseason, visit NSUSharks.com or follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_WTennis. 
 

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Final Four Bound! NSU Defeats Hawaii Pacific to Reach National Semifinals

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – And then there were four….Despite multiple delays throughout the day, the Nova Southeastern women’s tennis team never wavered, taking down fifth-seeded Hawaii Pacific 4-0 to advance to the Final Four of the NCAA Division II Championships on Wednesday night. The scores tightened following an hour stoppage midway through, yet Julie Razafindranaly was eventually able to clinch the victory to keep the Sharks’ title hopes alive.

INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: Nova Southeastern 4, Hawaii Pacific 0
Records: Nova Southeastern (25-3), Hawaii Pacific (17-9)
Location: Sanlando Park | Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_WTennis | Instagram – @NSU_WTennis

HOW IT HAPPENED:

DOUBLES:

Order of Finish: 3, 2
 
SINGLES:

  • No. 4 Julie Razafindranaly (NSU) def. No. 34 Elodie Busson (HPU), 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
  • No. 2 Natalie Espinal (NSU) def. No. 20 Marleen Tilgner (HPU), 6-3, 7-5
  • No. 44 Karolina Snita (NSU) vs. Mihoki Miyahara (HPU), 6-0, 64-64 (Unfinished)
  • Zala Dovnik (NSU) vs. Valentina Mokrova (HPU), 6-3, 4-6, 3-0 (Unfinished)
  • Chantal Nosievici (NSU) vs. Marta Ruszczynska (HPU), 7-5, 4-6, 3-0 (Unfinished)
  • No. 19 Nika Kozar (NSU) def. Rikona Murakami (HPU), 6-1, 6-0
     

Order of Finish: 6, 2, 1

UP NEXT: 
NSU will have a much-needed day off before getting a third crack at top-seeded Barry in the Final Four this Friday at 12 pm. For coverage, visit the schedule page on NSUSharks.com or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_WTennis. 
 

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Sharks Advance to Elite Eight with Dominant 4-0 Showing

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – Needing less than two hours to do so, the fourth-seeded Nova Southeastern women’s tennis team punched its ticket to the Elite Eight with a commanding 4-0 win over No. 13 seed Southwest Baptist on Tuesday afternoon at the NCAA Division II Championships. The Sharks will now advance to meet fifth-seeded Hawaii Pacific on Wednesday at 4 p.m.  

INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: Nova Southeastern 4, Southwest Baptist 0
Records: Nova Southeastern (24-3), Southwest Baptist (17-9)
Location: Sanlando Park | Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_WTennis | Instagram – @NSU_WTennis

HOW IT HAPPENED:

DOUBLES:
The Sharks needed only about 30 minutes to secure the doubles point, as Courts 1 and 3 cleaned up with 6-1 victories while Court 2 was on the verge of a win of its own.

Order of Finish: 1,3
 
SINGLES:
NSU dropped a total of one set throughout singles play. Nika Kozar built the Sharks’ lead to 2-0 with an impressive 6-0, 6-0 win on Court 6. Karolina Snita followed with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 victory before Natalie Espinal clinched the Sweet 16 win with another 6-1, 6-1 decision.

Order of Finish: 6,3,2

UP NEXT: 
In a rematch of an April 15th contest in which NSU won 4-1, the Sharks will square off against Hawaii Pacific on Wednesday with a chance to reach the Final Four. For coverage, visit the schedule page on NSUSharks.com or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_WTennis. 
 

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Sharks Look to Continue Postseason Run as Sweet 16 Begins Tuesday

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla.  Nearly 10 days removed from its notable regional win over No. 3 Saint Leo, the Nova Southeastern women’s tennis team will now shift its focus towards the next phase of the NCAA Tournament, as the fourth-seeded Sharks will square off against 13th-seeded Southwest Baptist in the Sweet 16 at noon Tuesday in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

The Sharks have become a fixture in the NCAA Tournament, having earned a berth in each of the past three seasons in which the postseason has been held. However, in the midst of their deepest run during that span, head coach Doug Neagle knows just how special of an opportunity his team has in front of them.

“The ladies are so pumped to be here at the DII Tennis Championships,” said Neagle. “They don’t take anything for granted and I feel they will embrace every moment. These will be amazing memories that’ll last a lifetime, and I’m so happy I get to share this with this incredible group. We are ready to leave it all out there this week!”

NSU defended its home court in the opening rounds of the tournament to reach this point, rolling past Benedict before knocking off Saint Leo for a third time this season. Now 23-3 on the year, the Sharks boast an impressive resume that includes a whopping 11 victories over Top-25 opponents, while two of their three losses are against top-ranked Barry and the other on a neutral court against then-No. 2 Indianapolis.

Also in NSU’s favor is a bevy of experience. Five players on the current roster competed in last season’s NCAA Tournament with the Sharks, including three All-Sunshine State Conference performers, while 2021-22 SSC Athlete of the Year Julie Razafindranaly already has her hands on three national titles while at Barry. Both Zala Dovnik and Nika Kozar are no strangers to high-level tennis, either, after competing last season at Purdue and Virginia Tech, respectively.

The Sharks will first have to get by a Southwest Baptist team whose only defeat since March 25 is against Indianapolis in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Tournament championship. The Bearcats have won 13 of their past 14 matches, using a 4-2 win over Grand Valley State to return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016.

The winner of Tuesday’s match will advance to face the winner of Hawaii Pacific and West Virginia State on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

For coverage throughout the week, visit NSUSharks.com or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_WTennis.  

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Moving On! Sharks Beat Lions to Advance in NCAA Tournament

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The second-ranked Nova Southeastern Women’s Tennis team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament with a 4-1 victory over No. 3 Saint Leo on Saturday afternoon from the NSU Tennis Complex. The Sharks hosted the Benedict Tigers and Saint Leo Lions during the tournament, earning a pair of victories,  

INSIDE THE MATCH 

SCORE: No. 2 Nova Southeastern 4, No. 3 Saint Leo 1 

RECORDS: No. 2 Nova Southeastern 23-3, No. 3 Saint Leo 20-4 

LOCATION: NSU Tennis Complex | Fort Lauderdale, FL. 

GET SOCIAL: Instagram & Twitter – NSU_WTennis 

DOUBLES COMPETITION 

SINGLES ACTION 

  • Dovnik was defeated 6-1, 6-0, as Saint Leo tied the match at 1-1.  

  • No. 2 Natalie Espinal defeated No. 14 Nina Furmaniak 6-0, 6-2, giving the Sharks a 2-1 advantage. 

  • Nika Kozar won a thrilling first set, 7-6 (7-3), before taking the match win with a score of 6-1, putting the Sharks firmly in the lead. 

  • A back-and-forth matchup between #4 Razafindranaly and #11 Marta Vicens Miquel featured two of the top Division II players in the country. Razafindranaly outlasted her counterpart, winning the final two sets (4-6, 6-2, 6-4) to seal the victory for the Sharks. 

UPCOMING 

The Sharks have now advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. NSU returns to competition on Tuesday, May 17, from Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Fla.  

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Sharks Begin Tournament Run with Dominant Showing

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. – No. 2 Nova Southeastern Women’s Tennis began its NCAA Tournament run on Friday morning, taking quick care of Benedict with a 4-0 victory in the first round from the NSU Tennis Complex.  

INSIDE THE MATCH 

RECORDS: No. 2 Nova Southeastern 22-3, Benedict 15-7 

SCORE: No. 2 Nova Southeastern 4, Benedict 0 

LOCATION: NSU Tennis Complex | Fort Lauderdale, FL. 

GET SOCIAL: Instagram and Twitter – NSU_WTennis 

DOUBLES COMPETITION 

SINGLES ACTION 

  • Dovnik earned her second victory of the morning, defeating Esperance Follykoue 6-1, 6-0. 

  • Nika Kozar sealed the first-round win for Nova Southeastern with a 6-0, 6-0 shutout of Kennedy Vincnet.  

STATS OF THE MATCH 

UPCOMING 

No. 2 Nova Southeastern has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and will take on Sunshine State Conference foe Saint Leo on Saturday, May 7, from the NSU Tennis Complex, first serve is set for 10 a.m. 

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