Black history was made on May 29 at the recent NCAA Division I women’s tennis championships that were conducted at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the University of Georgia campus in Athens. GA.
University of Michigan sophomore Brienne Minor became the first African-American woman ever to win the NCAA Division I women’s tennis title In case you’re wondering, the first African-American man to win an NCAA men’s singles tennis title was the legendary Arthur Ashe in 1965.
She was the 2014 Illinois state girls singles champion, but in this NCAA women’s singles tournament, she was ranked 24th in the nation, and also played with her Michigan teammates in the NCAA Division I team tennis championships that started in Athens back on May 18. .
Michigan advanced to the Round of 16, beating Youngstown State and Kentucky before being eliminated by national finalist runner-up Stanford.
When the NCAA women’s singles tourney started on May 24, the unseeded Minor faced the task of having to win six matches in six days to get to the finals of the 2017 NCAA women’s tourney while battling tendinitis in her knees.
Minor was also in the section of the bracket that contained the number one seed Francesca Di Lorenzo of Ohio State.and was facing in the opening round the woman who ended her 2016 NCAA women’s tournament run in Miami’s Sinead Lohan.
It took her three sets, but she beat Lohan 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to jumpstart her title run. Di Lorenzo was surprisingly upset in the opening round by Pepperdine’s Mayar Sharif Ahmad, and Minor knocked her off in straight sets in the Round of 16 on her way to the finals .
Minor would face Florida senior and tournament sixth seed Belinda Woolcock The Aussie was playing her last match as a Gator and had only dropped one set on her way to the championship finals. She also wanted to add the NCAA women’s singles title to the 2017 NCAA team tennis championship she played a huge role in Florida winning over Stanford.
Woolcock played 14 singles and doubles matches over the eleven days of the NCAA Division I tourney with an 11-1 record to help Florida win the NCAA team championship, was named the Most Valuable Player in the NCAA team tournament, and made the all Tournament team in singles and doubles.
But it was Brienne Minor’s day and she was on an eight match tournament winning streak at this point. With her family cheering her on, Minor made the admittedly tired Woolcock run all over the court as she raced out to a 4-0 first set lead before Woolcock broke her serve to finally get on the first set scoreboard.
Woolcock gave the service break back to stoke Minor to a 5-1 first set lead and won the next two games to close to 5-3, but dropped her service game to give Minor a one set lead in this NCAA title match.
Minor held serve to begin the second set and jumped out to a 3-1 and 4-2 lead before Woolcock made one last push and closed to 4-3 by blanking Minor with a love service game. But Minor stormed back by winning the next two to take the set and the 2017 NCAA women’s championship in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
Minor knocked off three players ranked in the top 16 in the nation to earn this historic title, and not only gave Michigan their first ever NCAA women’s singles tennis national champion, she made some Black history in the process.
With the win she also earned a wild card entry into the 2017 US Open that begins on August 28