Last weekend, the Tech women’s tennis team joined Georgia, Florida and Stanford as the only other teams in ITA indoor history to win its second straight ITA national championship. The competition is held annually in Madison, Wisc.
Tech beat Northwestern in the finals to accomplish the feat. It had just lost to the Wildcats in the weekend preceding the finals, losing 6-1.
“Losing to Northwestern was a wake-up call for us. It showed us where our weaknesses are in terms of competing with top teams,” said sophomore Kirsten Flower, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Senior Kristi Miller and Flower contributed to the quick start for the Jackets, winning the first doubles match over host school Wisconsin’s Elizabeth Carpenter and Kordhordo, 8-3. Christy Striplin and Noelle Hickey clinched the point, winning 8-3 over Morgan Tuttle and Katya Mimova.
With Miller resting for the later rounds, Amanda McDowell took over at No. 1 singles and won 6-0, 6-1 over Carpenter. Flower beat Erin Jobe for the second singles point, 6-1, 6-0. Whitney McCray clinched the match with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Jessica Seyferth.
Tech did not let up in the next match against UGA. Miller and Flower won again as they beat Kelley Hyndman and Monika Dancevic, 8-5. The second, clinching match went to McCray and McDowell in a tiebreaker 9-8 (1) over Yvette Hyndman and Naoko Ueshima. Striplin and Hickey finished off the Dogs with an 8-6 win over Cameron Ellis and Adrianne Elsberry.
In the singles round, Tech dominated UGA, winning every point and sweeping the rivals.
In their third match, Tech faced top-seeded Stanford in the semi-finals for the second straight year.
Last year Tech ended Stanford’s record 89-match win streak with a 4-3 win and matched it by the same score this season. Tech became just the first team to beat the Cardinals twice in the last five years and one of two teams to beat Stanford.
This year’s match was far more dramatic than last season’s though as Tech fell into a 3-0 hole quickly and had to claw their way to four singles match wins, three of which came after dropping the first set.
McCray dropped the first point to Barte in straight sets 6-1, 7-5. The result of the match looked even bleaker when Striplin lost the No. 4 singles match to Durkin 7-5, 6-1. Hickey then gave the Jackets life with a 6-2, 6-3 win over McVeigh.
That started the come back for the Jackets as McDowell then won the next point, beating Nguyen in three sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Flower took the tying point with a three set win over Deason, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Miller then clinched the match with the Jackets third three set win when she beat Burdette 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-3.
Tech went into the finals against Northwestern with something to prove after losing to the Wildcats the past weekend. Tech first won its double match.
“I think we had a lot of confidence going into the singles after winning the doubles point. The weekend before we had lost two of the three doubles matches. I think it gave our team a boost and we played well under pressure,” Miller said.
Striplin gave Tech a 2-0 lead when she beat Ghazal, 6-3, 6-2. Miller lost to Rose to drop the No. 1 singles match, 6-3, 6-1. Northwestern tied the match 2-2 when Hickey lost to Suzie Matzenauer, 6-2, 6-4. McCray defeated Murray for the third Tech point when she won 6-1, 7-5. Flower was able to clinch the match and trophy with a tiebreaker two-set win over Lui, 6-4, 7-5 (5).
“Lauren Lui missed a forehand in the net and I just remember screaming and jumping up and down. I jumped up and didn’t come down because my teammate Sasha was picking me up…it was just such a cool moment for us all,” Flower said.