The No. 4 Tech women’s tennis team faced stiff competition this week as they squared off against both No. 1 ranked Northwestern and No. 14 Clemson to open ACC match play.
The Jackets hosted Northwestern on Sunday. The Wildcats were 7-0 against opponents this year and had defeated Georgia last weekend to clinch the ITA Indoor Championship title that Tech won in 2007 and 2008. They lead the all-time series against the Jackets 4-2, but were beaten in the last meeting between the two teams when they played each other in the finals of the 2008 ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
The Wildcats came out ahead with the doubles point after sweeping all three doubles matches. Northwestern gained the next point in singles play to bring the team score to 2-0 after a 6-2, 6-4 win by Samantha Murray over senior Christy Striplin at the third position. No. 13 nationally ranked freshman Irina Falconi brought the Jackets closer after her third set win over the Wildcats’ No. 1 ranked Maria Mosolova 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Falconi’s stunning performance over Mosolova earned her the title of ACC Women’s Tennis Player of the Week on Tuesday.
However, Northwestern moved even further ahead after that, as No. 10 ranked junior Amanda McDowell dropped her match on court to the Wildcats’ No. 25 Georgia Rose, who won in the third set 7-6, 3-6, 6-1. Sophomore Noelle Hickey brought the Jackets back to a 3-2 score with her 6-4, 6-0 win over Lauren Lui in the fourth position.
The Wildcats secured the game victory shortly after as Nazlie Ghazal overtook sophomore Sasha Krupina in a third set win 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. The final match score ended up 5-2 in favor of the still undefeated Northwestern.
On Wednesday, the woen’s team traveled to Clemson to face the Tigers in the 31st meeting between the two rival schools. Clemson held a 23-7 advantage in the series, but the Jackets had won four of the last six meetings. Last year, the Jackets won the regular season match at home 6-1, but then lost to the Tigers 4-2 in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.
The Tigers opened the day by sweeping doubles and taking the point to give them an early 1-0 lead over the Jackets. Two of the doubles matches were in range of a win, however, as both teams of McDowell/Falconi and freshman Lynn Blau/Krupina lost in an 8-6 decision. The doubles game play for Tech will need some reworking as the team has been swept several times in doubles since the spring season began.
Ina Hadziselimovic pushed Clemson’s team score to 2-0 to open singles as she defeated Striplin 6-3, 6-1 in the third court position. On court four, Hickey got the Jackets their first point of the day as she defeated Keri Wong 6-3, 6-2. Clemson jumped back up 3-1 as No. 15 Josipa Bek won her match 6-2, 6-2 over No. 13 Falconi.
The Tigers won after Estefania Balda defeated McDowell 7-5, 6-4 at the second position. Even with the match lost, freshman Viet Ha Ngo and Krupina won their individual matches soon after to make the final game score 4-3.
The Jackets will see action again on Sunday and continue to face top-25 ranked teams as they host No. 7 Baylor at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.