Mississippi Gulf Coast's Margarita Lopareva claimed her second MACJC/Region 23 championship Friday, winning two matches in Tupelo.
"It started in the fall," Gulf Coast coach Gary Bourgeois said. "Her goal was to win a state championship and go to nationals. When the other players left us, she realized to go to nationals, she was going to have to win the championship. She was on a mission. Nobody was going to stand in her way."
The sophomore from Moscow, Russia defeated Meridian's Kennedy Rodriguez 6-1, 6-0 in the No. 1 singles title match. Lopareva was the second seed, and Rodriguez the third.
"She had the patience and the discipline to play all the different styles she faced in the draw," Bourgeois said. "She was so focused, she was in another zone."
The Lady Bulldogs top player knocked out the third seed, Jones' Mireia Jordan, 6-1, 6-3 in the semifinals earlier in the day.
Lopareva has earned a trip to the NJCAA Division I Women's Tennis Tournament, which will be played May 5-9 in Tyler, Texas. She won the No. 2 singles championship last year.
"She told she prayed a lot to God the last few days to give her the strength and energy to win," Bourgeois said. "He really smiled on her today. She played well in front of a hostile crowd."
Gulf Coast finished seventh in the team standings. The tournament was rushed to conclusion a day early to avoid predicted bad weather.
MACJC/Region 23 Women's Tennis Tournament
No. 1 singles: (2) Margarita Lopareva (GC) def. (3) Mireia Jordan (JC), 6-1, 6-3
No. 1 singles: (2) Margarita Lopareva (GC) def. (4) Kennedy Rodriguez (MER), 6-1, 6-0
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Sports Information Director
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College