The No. 8 ranked women’s tennis team was busy two weeks ago when it hosted No. 27 Auburn on Wednesday Jan. 28 and then the ITA National Team Indoor Qualifier that weekend. The match against Auburn opened the team’s spring dual-match season, allowing the girls to compete together as a team for the first time since the indoor championships last year. Tech has won the past eight meetings with Auburn, including a 7-0 win last season.
The Jackets opened the day strong, sweeping all three doubles matches to clinch the first point for Tech (1-0). The nation’s No. 4 doubles team of junior Amanda McDowell and freshman Irina Falconi were the first to finish with an 8-4 victory over Auburn’s Fani Chifchieva and Melissa Koning. Senior Christy Striplin and sophomore Noelle Hickey then clinched the doubles point on court two with an 8-4 win over Alex Haney and Myrthe Molenveld. The sweep was finished off with a win by sophomore Sasha Krupina and freshman Hillary Davis 8-6 over Whitney Chappell and Jill Hastenrath.
In singles play, the Tigers were the first to win, tying the match score 1-1 with a win 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 by Haney over Falconi at the No. 2 position. The Jackets again regained the lead when Striplin, who was down 0-4 in the first set, came back and defeated Koning 6-4, 6-4 on court three. Again the score was tied up 2-2 when McDowell dropped her match in a battle with No. 6 nationally ranked Chifchieva 0-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2). Hickey gave Tech a 3-2 lead on court three against Molenveld 6-2, 6-2, but it was Krupina at the No. 5 spot who beat Chappell, 6-4, 6-4, who sealed the victory for the Jackets. The last finish of the day came by freshman Viet Ha Ngo, who defeated Hastenrath 6-1, 6-1 and finished the match, giving Tech the win with the score 5-2.
After the win over Auburn, Tech’s team entered the ITA National Indoor Qualifier in hopes to win the tournament. The Yellow Jackets are currently back-to-back winners of the tournament and looked to earn their third straight title. On Saturday, the Jackets faced No. 25 TCU who gave the Jackets a few close matches. Falconi clinched Tech’s victory after coming back to win over TCU’s Macall Harkins in the second position 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. Tech finished the match with a 5-2 victory as everyone but McDowell and Hickey won their individual singles matches.
On Sunday, the team faced No. 21 Arizona State to stay alive in the Indoor Championship. For the first time in history, Tech faced the Sun Devils and was able to come out with a 4-2 win. After losing two of the three doubles matches to give Arizona State a point, the Jackets were able to rebound in singles. Other than McDowell, the Jackets did not give up one set in their singles play. Krupina clinched the game-winning point with a victory over Sianna Simmons 6-1, 6-4. Krupina, who did not start in singles play last season, has come out strong this year posting a 3-0 record in singles. With the win, the team had last weekend off from gameplay and will head to Madison, Wisconsin for the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships which start today and run through Monday.
The men’s team also set off for the ITA National Team Indoor Qualifier on the same weekend as they traveled to Waco, Texas. The team faced San Diego State first, winning for the first time over them with a score 4-1.
The Jackets struck first by winning two of the three doubles matches to earn Tech the first point in the match. Sophomores Guillermo Gomez and Eliot Potvin took their match with an 8-3 win over the Aztecs, while sophomore Doug Kenny and freshman Kevin King took the doubles point with a close win of 9-7. In singles, wins by nationally-ranked No. 14 Gomez (6-2, 6-2), King (6-4, 7-6, (7-3)), and freshman Dusan Miljevic allowed Tech to win the match and stay alive in the tournament.
In the next day of play, Tech fell to No. 7 Baylor 6-1 after dropping all three doubles matches and losing all but one singles match. Sophomore Miguel Muguruza held the Jackets lone victory on the day after defeating No. 40 Attila Bucko 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
The team was one win short of making the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, but being able to face tough competition early in the season could perhaps benefit them as they continue through the spring season.