Tennis kicks off with matches at GT Invitational

By Nishant Prasadh

Contributing Writer

The women’s tennis team, ranked No. 8 in the nation at the end of the 2007-08 season, opened up its fall season with the three-day Georgia Tech Invitational tournament this weekend. Tech’s women competed with teams from three fellow nationally ranked teams in the University of Georgia, Arizona State and Princeton, as well as nearby Georgia State.

Following strong performances on Friday and Saturday, Tech won two matches in Sunday morning doubles play against Arizona State without much trouble. The tandem of junior Amanda McDowell and freshman Irina Falconi defeated the Sun Devils’ Laila Abdala and Sianna Simmons 8-1, and sophomore Noelle Hickey teamed with senior Christy Striplin beat Arizona States’ Ashlee Brown and Ali Van Horne 8-2.

The Sunday’s singles play pitted Tech’s women against the squad from Georgia. The opening match saw Tech freshman Hillary Davis face off against Adrienne Elsberry; Davis cruised to a victory in straight sets, defeating Elsberry 6-2, 6-3 to give Tech the first singles win of the day.

Following Davis’ victory, the team played six matches simultaneously, in which Tech fell into a 2-0 hole early. The first of these to conclude saw McDowell falter after winning in straight sets on Friday and Saturday. McDowell played well but dropped her match against Chelsey Gullickson 6-3, 6-3 to give Georgia the first singles match of the day. Soon afterward, sophomore Noelle Hickey, who appeared visibly frustrated at times, fell to Monika Dancevic 6-2, 6-3.

Despite the early 2-1 deficit, Tech’s fortunes quickly took a turn for the better. Christy Striplin, the lone senior on the roster, completed a strong performance for Tech’s first singles win of the day, defeating Yvette Hyndman in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.

Freshman Irina Falconi was the next to finish her match, beating Nadja Gilchrist 6-3, 1-6, 6-3. After taking the early lead without much trouble, Falconi struggled to maintain her form during the second set, but she recovered nicely to take the third set and the match.

In the day’s only singles match that saw a seventh game, Tech freshman Christina Ngo held off Cameron Ellis to win 6-4, 7-5. The final match ended in favor of Georgia’s Naoko Ueshima, who defeated sophomore Sasha Krupina in a hard-fought match 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

Head Coach Bryan Shelton viewed the invitational primarily as a tune-up for the coming events of the fall season. Throughout the tournament, he kept McDowell and Striplin at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions in the lineup, respectively, but he shuffled the other team members to see how the team’s younger members performed in various spots in the lineup.

“We were able to get in some good matches…These are going to make our practices a little bit more meaningful as we go along from here. We definitely have some things that we know we need to work on…and our goal is to be a lot better in the spring than in the fall,” said Head Coach Bryan Shelton.

The 3-3 finish capped an excellent early-tournament showing from Tech’s women, who collectively went 18-5 in singles play and 7-5 in doubles play. Every Tech player won at least one singles match, and Striplin, Falconi, Ngo, and Davis each won all three of their matches, with Striplin, Ngo, and Davis each winning all three in straight sets. Striplin also secured the tournament’s singles title after scoring the most points of any individual over the course of the tournament.

“I think we’re certainly one of the better teams in the country, and I thought we had great competition here this weekend” Shelton said

Men’s tennis opened their season in Athens at the Southern Intercollegiate Tournament. The Jackets had a successful first round. Sophomore Eliot Potvin won his opening match in the first flight round of 128. Potvin followed that with a loss to Jamie Hunt of UGA (6-7 (5), 2-6). Among returning players, sophomore Ryan Smith beat Dylan Arnould of Duke in three sets, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (2). Top player, sophomore Guillermo Gomez, the No. 5 seed, won his opening round match against Jared Pinsky, also of Duke, 6-3, 6-2. Junior Austin Roebuck, sophomore Doug Kenny, sophomore Miguel Muguruza and freshman Dusan Miljevic all won their opening round matches in the second flight. Top recruit Kevin King also won his first round match, against Stuart Robinson of Wofford, 6-3, 6-3.

King and Smith lost their second round matches, while Gomez moved on to the round of 16 with a win over Charles Bottoni of East Tennessee State University, 6-1, 7-6. Gomez also won his fourth round match, 6-2, 6-1 over Virginia Tech’s Nicolas Delgado DeRobles. Only Miljevic advanced in the second flight, he defeated Jason Wolfson of Morehead State, 7-5, 6-2. Miljevic would lose in the round of 16 to Richard Cowden of Middle Tennessee State, 3-6, 5-7.

Gomez and King advanced to the doubles quarterfinals but lost to top seeded Bruno Agostinelli and Brad Cox of Kentucky. In singles, Gomez won his quarterfinals singles match against third seeded Hunt of UGA, 6-3, 6-3. He followed that up with a loss to second seeded Augustinelli, 2-6, 4-6.