Facing some of the top teams in the country, the No. 9 Tech women’s tennis team‘s early-season unbeaten streak finally came to an end. The Jackets fell 5-2 against No. 3 California on Feb. 12 and 4-3 against No. 13 Tennessee the following day before rebounding to defeat host Wisconsin 6-1 on Valentine’s Day at the ITA Team Indoor National Championships.
The Jackets qualified for the tournament two weeks earlier when, as the host of one of 15 regional tournaments on ITA Kick-Off Weekend, they defeated Arizona State and Kentucky to clinch a berth in the 16-team tournament.
With the eight highest-ranked the country qualifying for the tournament as well, the Jackets were unseeded and received a first-round matchup with No. 3 California.
It marked the second year in a row Tech had faced Cal at the ITA Indoors. Last year, the Jackets dropped the second-round contest 5-2 despite a win by now-senior Amanda McDowell in the first flight.
This year, Cal jumped out to a quick lead by sweeping all three doubles matches. Sophomore Hillary Davis and junior Viet Ha Ngo went down 8-3 against Cal’s Marina Cossou and Kasia Siwosz, and sophomore Lynn Blau and freshman Elizabeth Kilborn dropped their match by the same score. On court one, sophomore Irina Falconi and junior Sasha Krupina came closer to victory but ultimately fell 8-5.
The highlight of singles play was on court one, where the top two singles players in the nation faced off as No. 1 Falconi took on No. 2 Jana Juricova. The match was close throughout, and ultimately Falconi exacted revenge for her 2009 loss to Juricova with a 7-6, 7-5 victory.
By the time their match finished, though, the Golden Bears had already clinched the match.
Cossou, the No. 10 singles player in the ITA rankings, took down No. 66 Krupina 6-2, 6-1 in the first match to finish. Tech rebounded as McDowell completed a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Siwosz to give the Jackets their first point.
Cal took the next two matches, sealing their victory. On court six, Cal’s Tayler Davis defeated Kilborn 6-4, 6-3, and Mari Andersson knocked off Ngo 6-0, 6-3 to clinch the victory for the Golden Bears.
In the court five match, Blau took an early lead on Cal’s Annie Goransson but fell 3-6, 6-4, 10-1.
With the loss, Tech moved into the consolation bracket to face No. 13 Tennessee, which had lost its first-round matchup with No. 2 Northwestern.
The Jackets were once again swept in doubles play, but they put up a fight.
Falconi and Krupina had a tough matchup against the nation’s No. 1 doubles tandem of Caitlin Whoriskey and Natalie Pluskota, but they kept the match close before falling 8-6.
Davis and Ngo dropped their court two match 8-3 against Zsofia Zubor and Rosalia Alda, and Blau and Kilborn fell 8-4 to Maria Sorbello and Katie Lee.
The Jackets evened things up in the first singles match to finish, as McDowell notched a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 comeback victory over Alda in the third flight.
Blau and Tennessee’s Jennifer Meredith played a close match on court five, but Meredith held off the sophomore for a 7-6, 7-6 win.
Court one saw the closest match of the day–another battle between top-10 players in Falconi and No. 6 Whoriskey. Falconi edged out a first set victory, but Whoriskey held her off to win sets two and three to take the match 6-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Kilborn knocked off Lee 6-2, 6-0 on court six to keep Tech alive, but Sorbello’s 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 win over Krupina clinched the victory for the Volunteers despite Ngo’s 6-3, 7-5 win over Zubor in the court four match.
Tech rebounded in the last of its three contests in the tournament, defeating host Wisconsin 6-1 on Sunday, Feb. 14.
The Jackets took the doubles point, winning two of the three matches. All were close contests, but Falconi and Krupina defeated Aleksandra Markovic and Angela Chupa 8-4 on court one and Ngo and Davis held off Hannah Berner and Kathleen Saltarelli 9-7 to clinch the point for Tech.
In singles play, Tech won four matches in straight sets as Falconi, Krupina, Ngo and Kilborn cruised to victories. Blau won by default after taking the first set of her match 7-6. Wisconsin’s only singles victory came as Alaina Trgovich edged Davis 7-5, 7-5 on court six.
The Jackets have ten days off before opening ACC play at home against Clemson on Feb. 24.