BATTLE OF ACES

Tech’s top ranked and defending national championship team improved their record to 2-0 on the season with 7-0 sweep over No. 29 South Florida. The Bulls were 6-0 before heading to Atlanta to face off against the Jackets. The win increases the Jackets consecutive winning streak to 18 dating back to last season and their home winning streak to 22 dating back to the 2006 season. With the second consecutive sweep, the Jackets have now won every single point they have played this season.

“Every year is a new year, and every match is new. …in a way, you just have to start over. In the same way we had a great fall, [we have been able to] carry so much momentum form [that season]. We did great individually and that can translate into team success if we can handle the pressure,” said senior Kristi Miller.

The Jackets took all three of their doubles matches with Miller and sophomore Kirsten Flower beating Liz Cruz and Iciri Rai 8-2. Senior Whitney McCray and sophomore Amanda McDowell defeated Allyn Muelle and Jessica Zok 8-5. Though the Jackets had already won the doubles point with this, they added one more match, with senior Christy Striplin and freshman Noelle Hickey sweeping Jessica Sweeting and Natalia Guevara 8-0.

“[Since we are ranked #1], you know teams are going to come after you and they are going to play their best, because a win against us will make their season that much better,” Miller said.

With a 1-0 lead going into singles play the Jackets were able to close-out the Bulls in just the first three singles matches. Coming into Saturday with a No. 3 ranking from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), Amanda McDowell defeated Liz Cruz 6-0, 6-1 to start off singles play.

No. 7 Kristi Miller defeated Allyn Muelle 6-0, 6-3. And No. 22 Whitney McCray defeated Jessica Zok 6-1, 6-1. The two in the top-10 and the three in the top-25 solidify one of the strongest starting lineups Tech has had in recent times. Despite this fact, players are not getting too ahead of themselves.

“Our main focus right now is to keep improving. The wins will come if we just focus on getting better,” McDowell said.

The Jackets were able to gain the sweep by defeating USF in the final three single matches. While Striplin fell behind in the first set and eventually lost the set, 1-6, she battled back to beat Iciri Rai 6-1 in the second set and 10-5 in the exciting tie breaker. Noelle Hickey defeated Natalia Guevara 6-2, 6-3 in the second to last point. Flower defeated Jessica Sweeting 6-2, 6-0 to finish off the sweep and to build even more momentum to the start.

“Last year, we were really good under pressure and I think if we bring that again this year, it will really pay-off,” McDowell said.