Tennis teams open season with wins

Both the women’s and men’s tennis teams opened their fall seasons last weekend in tournaments where both teams saw immediate success. The women’s team hosted Florida, Georgia and Princeton in the three-day Georgia Tech Fall Invitational. The men’s team traveled to Athens, Ga., where 10 players and five doubles pairs competed in the 42nd annual Southern Intercollegiate Championships.

The three teams that came to Atlanta to face Tech proved to be tough competition for the Jackets based on the success each of them saw last season. Princeton was the Ivy League champion last season. Miami reached the Elite Eight at the NCAA Tournament and finished ranked No. 7. Georgia finished as the No. 3 team nationally and reached the Final Four led by Chelsey Gullickson, who was a semifinalist in the 2009 NCAA Singles Tournament.

Tech opened up the first day of competition on Sept. 18, and the women won six of their seven singles matches. Sophomore All-American Irina Falconi played at the top singles position and won over the Tigers Hilary Barlett, 6-0, 6-1. Senior Amanda McDowell earned singles win No. 110 of her career when she downed Princeton’s Melissa Saiontz 6-1, 6-1. Sophomore Hillary Davis fell behind against Princeton’s Taylor Marable but came back to win a close one 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1).

Other victories on the day for Tech came from junior Sasha Krupina, sophomore Lynn Blau and freshman Elizabeth Kilborn, who won in straight sets in her debut with the Jackets. Kilborn and Krupina also picked up an 8-4 doubles victory later in the day.

Day two of the Invitational saw a battle between top-ten players as Falconi, ranked No. 8 in the nation, faced No. 6 Laura Vallverdu of Miami. Falconi completed a 7-6, 6-4 straight-set victory against last year’s NCAA Singles Tournament runner-up. Blau won 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 against Miami’s Danielle Mills, making a comeback from a three-game second set deficit. Other singles wins on the day came from Davis and sophomore Viet Ha Ngo.

The Jackets picked up a pair of wins over Georgia in Saturday doubles play. Falconi and McDowell earned an 8-1 victory over the Bulldogs’ tandem of Gullickson and Yvette Hyndman. Krupina and Kilborn pulled out an 8-5 win over Georgia’s Naoka Ueshima and Cameron Ellis. Davis and Blau took down a Princeton pair as Tech swept its doubles matches.

On the last day of tournament play, Krupina and Blau each earned come-from-behind singles victories against Georgia players. Krupina lost her opening set to Hyndman but fought back for a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory. Blau battled back to win a tiebreaker and defeat Ellis 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5). Davis earned her third victory on the weekend with a 7-6, 6-4 win over Ueshima. Kilborn closed out her first collegiate tournament with a victory over Marable.

McDowell and Falconi will represent the Jackets at the 2009 Riviera Women’s All-American Tennis Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif. They won the tournament’s doubles title last year and will participate in the main singles and doubles draws.

The men’s team traveled to Athens for the Southern Intercollegiate Championship, the nation’s oldest fall college tennis tournament. The SIC featured participants from 28 schools and was divided into three singles and two doubles divisions, with a champion from each division.

Junior Guillermo Gomez, the nation’s No. 5 player, was seeded No. 3 in Division I along with Tech junior Eliot Potvin, transfer Dean O’Brien and sophomore Kevin King. All four players had byes into the round of 64 and began play on Friday afternoon.

Sophomore Dusan Miljevic was seeded No. 8 in Division II, which also included senior Austin Roebuck, juniors Doug Kenny, Ryan Smith and Miguel Muguruza, and freshman Magin Ortiga.

The doubles teams in Division I included Gomez with Ortiga and Smith with O’Brien. Roebuck and Kenny, Miljevic and King, and Muguruza and Potvin competed in Division II doubles play.

Tech went undefeated on the first day of gameplay as Potvin, Gomez and O’Brien each won their singles matches in Division I. Roebuck won in both Division II singles and doubles, winning 7-5, 6-4 against Joe Nicolazzi in singles play and teaming with Potvin to defeat William John and Timion Meijs in doubles by the score of 8-1.

After day two of gameplay, Gomez was able to push into the quarterfinals of Division I singles. Muguruza, Miljevic and Roebuck were able to survive through the day and make it into the round of 16 in Division II singles.

In the round of 32 for Division I singles, both Gomez and Potvin were able to advance. In the round of 16, though, Potvin was unable to win again after dropping his match in the third set to Duke’s Henrique Cunha 2-6, 6-2, 1-0 (8). In Division II singles, Ortiga fell against Brock Sakey in the round of 64.

Gomez was declared co-champion in Division I on Monday after reaching the finals. Miljevic also advanced to the semifinals in Division II before all remaining matches were cancelled due to heavy rains and flooding.

In the quarterfinals, Gomez defeated Vanderbilt’s Ryan Lipman 6-1, 3-6, 1-0 (3) and also eliminated Cunha 6-2, 6-3. He shared the championship with Georgia’s Nate Schnugg. There was no champion in Division II singles due to rain, but Miljevic was able to advance to the semifinals after both quarterfinal competitors who would have faced him withdrew.

The men’s team has this weekend off and will prepare to host the Georgia Tech Fall Invitational from Oct. 3-5.