Peach State Matchup set for Championship Singles Match
at Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – For the first time since the inaugural Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships, a women’s player hailing from the state of Georgia will be crowned singles champion as Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson and Georgia Tech’s Irina Falconi have advanced to tomorrow’s championship match.
Falconi survived a three-hour match against Venise Chan of Washington defeated Chan, 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) to earn a spot in the singles finals. Falconi, who teamed with senior Amanda McDowell to capture the 2008 ITA All-American doubles title, looked like they had a shot to defend their title by upsetting the 2009 NCAA Champions and top-seeded Cal team of Mari Andersson and Jana Juricova before getting blanked by an upstart freshman Florida team in yesterday’s quarterfinals.
“It was a really well-played match from both of us,” Falconi said. “It took a lot of fitness and mental toughness out there. The match could have gone either way and it was just staying in there and being completely focused. Today's match was a good test for me to see if I could get it done. It feels great to be in my first All-American final. I am just excited to be in the position. I plan to take tomorrow's match one point at a time."
It marks the third straight year Georgia Tech has individuals competing in the finals at the event - Falconi and McDowell in 2008 and Kristi Miller and Whitney McCray in the 2007 doubles final.
Gullickson, the tournament’s highest remaining seed showed why she was deserving of the No. 2 Campbell/ITA Preseason College Tennis Ranking by defeating fourth-ranked Juricova, 7-6 (3), 7-5, in another hotly-contested victory. In her road to the final, Gullickson has been extended to three sets twice and has won in two tie-breaking straight sets matches.
“Chelsey played another great match today, and this tournament has been filled with close matches and incredible battles,” said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace. “She has found ways to win each day, and that’s what it’s all about because everybody is good here.”
Gullickson is the first Bulldog finalist at this event since Aarthi Venkatesan in 2000 and is seeking the Bulldogs first title since Lisa Spain won in 1983.
The championship doubles final will feature two SEC rivals battling for the title as the Florida and Tennessee doubles teams coming off big upset quarterfinal victories yesterday each advanced to tomorrow’s title tilt.
Tennessee’s Caitlin Whoriskey, who provided the tournament’s biggest upset with a straight-set victory over top-seeded Maria Mosolova of Northwestern, teamed up with Natalie Pluskota, the ITA/USTA Summer Singles Champion, to exact revenge on the No. 2-ranked Stanford team yesterday. In today’s semifinals, they showed no signs of slowing down by cruising to a 6-4, 6-2 win over Lenka Broosova and Csilla Borsanyi of Baylor.
If little was known about Florida’s phenom freshmen Allie Will and Lauren Embree prior to this week’s championships, the college tennis world has now definitely taken notice. After blanking the reigning doubles champions of Georgia Tech, the Gator duo continued their championship run by fighting off Sophie Grabinski and Sanaz Marand of the fourth-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. Both frosh had to qualify into the main draw singles, where they marched all the way to the tournament’s quarterfinals.
The tournament, hosted by the Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. for the 25th consecutive year kicked off on Saturday, October 3 and concludes on tomorrow with the championship singles match beginning at 11 am PDT, followed by the championship doubles match.
For complete results and event information, visit www.itatennis.com.