By Laurean Love
Senior Diana Nakic concluded her remarkable run at the ITA Texas Regional in Fort Worth on Tuesday by winning a title in the final match.
“Diana just gained momentum throughout the tournament and kept playing better as it went on,” head coach Joey Scrivano said in a press release Tuesday. “She is just such a great competitor, and she proved that today. She beat arguably the hottest player in college tennis right now. To beat someone of that caliber, and that has been playing that well, is just a real impressive win.”
Nakic is the fourth Baylor player since 2005 to win the ITA Regional title, joining Zuzana Zemenova (2005), Lenka Broosova (2007) and Sona Novakova (2010) as regional champs under Scrivano.
Nakic, seeded fourth in the tournament, 28th in the NCAA, was up against Texas A&M’s third- seeded and 24th-ranked Cristina Quintanar-Sanchez and defeated her 6-3, 6-1.
Nakic played one of her best matches of the season when taking on the top-seeded player of the tournament in the semifinals, which earned her a spot in the finals.
“I think this could be a breakthrough performance for Diana (Nakic),” Scrivano said Monday. “For her to step up her game and hit the shots she needed to hit was impressive. That was her best match this fall. Diana just combined her competitiveness with execution, and when she does that, she’s just really tough to beat.”
Nakic will now be entered in the elite 32-player field at the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships on Nov. 3-6 in Flushing, N.Y.
Sophomore Jordaan Sanford and freshman Megan Horter joined Nakic this weekend. They won four of five matches Friday.
In singles, Nakic and Sanford earned a first-round bye prior to their victories to move to the round of 32, while Horter earned a first-round win but lost in the round of 64. In doubles, Sanford and Nakic followed their first-round bye with a loss.
“We are definitely not playing our best tennis, but we are getting better,” Scrivano said in a press release Friday. “I can really see an improvement from last week, and that’s all you can ask for. We are looking forward to the opportunity to keep building. I can see a definite improvement in Megan’s game from last week. What I like about Jordaan and Diana is that they are getting better at playing the type of tennis that we envision for them.”
In the round of 16 on Saturday, Nakic and Sanford each took down seeded opponents from the University of Texas to advance to Sunday’s quarterfinal round in both singles and doubles.
“It was a good day at the office,” Scrivano said in a press release Saturday. “Overall, we are continuing to move in the right direction. Jordaan did some really good things today, playing more aggressively. Diana is playing really well, and she really got pushed to the limit. We are proud of the way Diana competed to get the win.”
Nakic earned a spot as one of the final four on Sunday, beating TCU’s Simona Parajova 6-2, 6-4, 6-3, while Sanford entered the singles quarterfinal against Texas’ Aerial Ellis but couldn’t make it past the first game because of an illness, receiving a 1-0, ret., loss.
In doubles the pair was able to take down a solid Texas Tech team of Nikki Sanders and Caroline Starck 8-4.
Baylor will be on the road again to the Jack Kramer Club Invitational Friday-Sunday in Rolling Hills, Calif.