Having won the last three nation titles, the Jackets women’s tennis team had high hopes for this year’s tournament. However, they ran into a Florida team that had lost just two matches all year.
The Jackets fought, but came up short in the doubles that set the tone for the day. Tech’s Kristi Miller and Sasha Krupina won the first match 8-4 over Megan Alexander and Marrit Boonstra.
Tech was unable to capitalize though as Kirsten Flower and Christy Striplin lost their match 5-8 to Julia Cohen and Anastasia Revzina. Noelle Hickey and Whitney McCray fell to Whitney Benik and Csilla Borsanyi, 8-6, giving the Gators the doubles point.
Singles went back and forth between the two teams. Benik was the first to finish for the Gators, she dropped the first two games to Striplin but won 12 straight to take the match, 6-2, 6-0.
Tech secured the next point at No. 2 singles when Amanda McDowell cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Borsanyi. Florida took their third point at the No. 5 spot; Boonstra defeated Flower, 6-3, 6-4. Tech rebounded with their second point; Miller dropped Cohen, 6-2, 6-3.
Florida clinched the match in the No. 6 spot. Hickey won the first set 6-4, but Revzina rebounded to take the next two sets 1-6, 1-6 and put Florida into the Final Four. This was the last tournament for seniors Miller and McCray.
The Jackets started their defense of the 2007 women’s tennis title with a sweep when they beat Alcorn State 4-0 in the first round in Atlanta,
“The first match of every tournament is always a little bit tough. The girls handled it well today, I thought they came out here and competed hard,” said head coach Bryan Shelton after the match.
Tech, hosting a regional that included Illinois and Tennessee, swept the doubles matches and won all three singles matches 6-0, 6-0 with Hickey, McCray and Striplin picking up points.
“They are really excited about this tournament. Last year we had so much to be thankful for and things just went our way. We wanted to get off to a good start and we were able to do that today,” Shelton said.
The Jackets followed with a second round sweep over No. 25 Tennessee.
“Tennessee’s a very good team, they pushed us to the limit in the doubles but we were able to respond being down 6-1 in the No. 2 doubles…In the singles play, I thought we did a really good job of just competing and staying composed out there on the court. I think the composure pulled us through in the end,” Shelton said after Saturday’s match.
The Jackets opened the doubles round with an 8-5 win when Flower and stripling beat Jennifer Meredith and Connor Vogel. No. 16 Caitlin Whoriskey and Zsofia Zubor subsequently beat Miller and Krupina, 8-6. Tennessee looked like it would finish off the Jackets in the No. 2 doubles spot when Ghizela Shutte and Rosalia Alda led McCray and Hickey 6-1, but the Jackets came back to win the match (9-7) and take the doubles point.
“I think when we made it 6-3, I felt like we were getting the momentum and doing a lot things positive that we should have been doing from the beginning,” McCray said.
The Jackets had little resistance in the singles. Amanda McDowell scored the first point for Tech when she won 6-2, 6-0 over Shutte in the No. 2 singles spot. Striplin followed quickly with a 6-0, 6-2 victory in the No. 4 singles over Vogel. Hickey clinched match point with a straight sets (6-4, 6-4) win over Rosalia Alda in the No. 6 singles spot.
“It was a little nerve racking at times…. I love the support…this is the largest crowd we’ve had in a long time,” McCray said.
Against Texas, Flower came back in the second set of her match to clinch it for the Jackets. Flower won her match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4 over Maggie Mello.
Tech dropped the doubles point for the first time in the tournament with Vanja Corovic and Marija Milic beating Miller and Krupina, 8-2. Flower and Christy Striplin defeated Mello and Courtney Zauft, 8-6. Hickey and McCray fell short 8-6 to Stephanie Davison and Caroline Larsson.
Sarah Lancaster stopped Hickey in the second set to win 6-1, 6-3. Down 2-0, the Jackets rallied when Striplin earned a 6-3, 6-2 win over Larsson. Miller won the No. 1 singles point with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Corovic. The points kept coming for the Jackets as Amanda McDowell beat Zauft, 6-2, 6-4 before Flower clinched the match for Tech with her win over Mello in No. 5 singles.