Pac-12 Teams Take Over on Day Two of ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship
The 2012 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship is down to four in the main draw at the Boar’s Head Sports Club hosted by the University of Virginia. Three of those teams belong to the Pac-12 Conference, with top-seeded Duke being the fourth team to reach the semifinals.
The day started with a pair of consolation matches. On the stadium courts, Clemson and Ole Miss began the morning in a tense doubles point. The Tigers took the match at the first spot 8-3, but the Rebels answered back with an 8-5 win at the second position. With the doubles point on the line, the duo of Vyskicilova and Kochanova rallied from a 7-2 deficit to win the match 9-7 and put Clemson on top heading into singles.
The Tigers seized complete control in singles play, winning all six first sets. Keri Wong, ranked No. 65 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, delivered the first singles victory at the second position, followed by a 6-4, 6-3 win by Romy Koelzer at the fifth spot. Klara Vyskicilova and Nelly Ciolkowski, both in the top 70 of the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, were in a race to clinch the victory. It was No. 58 Vyskicilova who would come through with a 6-2, 6-3 win at the third position, giving Clemson a 4-0 sweep of Ole Miss.
“Yesterday we were very nervous from the start,” Clemson head coach Nancy Harris stated. “We just played really bad doubles. We didn’t make Michigan play at all. Again today, we got out to a bad start in doubles. I thought we were very fortunate to get the doubles point today. The momentum from doubles really carried over into singles, and I thought that really took the wind out of the sails of Mississippi. They are obviously a very good team, played Duke very close yesterday, but that really affected them today. Every team here is good, so I told our team you have to earn wins here; that is exactly what we did today.”
Texas and Miami also experienced a very tense doubles point. The Hurricanes took the match on court three easily, but the other two matches were tight. Texas was able to pull out the match at the second spot, and seemingly had the point in hand with a 6-3 lead at the first position. Miami’s Bartenstein and Dubins were able to battle back against Padegimaite and Scott, evening the score at 7-7, but the Longhorn duo broke for 8-7 after missing out on several break points. Scott held with relative ease in the next game, giving Texas an early 1-0 lead.
Losing a close doubles point did not cause Miami to fold, as the Hurricanes rallied to win the first set on five of the six singles courts. Miami has two top 40 players in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, and both No. 15 Anna Bartenstein and No. 39 Gabriela Mejia delivered straight-set wins to put the Canes ahead 2-1. Each team took a two-set triumph at the bottom two spots in the lineup, moving the score to 3-2 in favor of Miami. With the final two matches in a third set, Melissa Bolivar was able to rebound from dropping the second set 6-1 against Texas’ Cierra Gaytan-Leach, winning the third set going away 6-1 to give her team the 4-2 win.
“Texas is a tough doubles team,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews explained. “We have some new teams playing for us. I actually thought we played better in doubles today, but that’s college tennis for you. I think Cal is just a better team than us, and they really pushed us around yesterday. We just didn’t play on our terms against them. I told the team today we were going to come out and play on our terms, and that’s what we did. I am glad they listened, processed, and did what we asked them to do.”
The main draw matches got underway at Noon, as top-seeded Duke looked to improve on its performance from the first day of action against a talented Michigan squad. The Blue Devils' doubles duo at the first spot once again struggled, this time falling 8-3, but the other two pairs were able to come through with quick victories to put Duke ahead 1-0 going into singles play.
Much like they did against Ole Miss, the Blue Devils stormed out of the gates early to seize control of the singles matches; however, unlike yesterday, they did not let their opponents get back into these matches. Mary Clayton, ranked No. 66 in the latest Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, put Duke up 2-0 with a quick victory, giving the Blue Devils all the momentum. The Wolverines were never allowed to settle into many of the singles matches. Duke’s Monica Turewicz, No. 35 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, came through with a 6-2, 6-1 win at the sixth position to put her team into the semifinals with a 4-0 sweep of Michigan.
“We knew we had a second life after yesterday’s match, and we had to take advantage of that,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We came out with better energy and intensity today. We really did a good job of using the momentum from the doubles point. (Mary) Clayton getting the quick win at No. 5 was huge for us, as was winning all six first sets. Michigan is a good team with some good wins, so I was really happy we came out and jumped on them early. We came out more relaxed today, especially in singles, where we played a lot better.”
Duke’s opponent will be fifth-seeded California, which looked very impressive in a 4-0 sweep of the fourth seed Georgia. The Golden Bears were absolutely dominant in doubles play, taking the match at the first spot 8-1 and at the second spot 8-2 to claim the doubles points.
With all six of California’s singles players ranked nationally in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, the Bulldogs were in quite a hole. Golden Bear senior No. 5 Jana Juricova made the score 2-0 in favor of California with her comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 2 Chelsey Gullickson at the first spot. No. 74 Anett Schutting also came through in straight sets against No. 56 Kate Fuller at the fifth position. With Georgia beginning to get a few matches going in their favor, No. 21 Zsofi Susanyi put away No. 52 Lauren Herring 6-3, 6-3 to complete the sweep for California.
“Georgia is very aggressive in doubles. They have three really good doubles teams. I told our team we needed to go out there and play our game, but still be aggressive. We did a really good job of figuring out tactics on the court today. We didn’t think we had to win the doubles point to win the match, but it was definitely crucial for us moving into singles. We just tried not to think about that fact that we were playing indoors and just tried to take care of our individual matches. That is when we play our best, when we just focus on what we need to do at every court.”
The two main draw matches from the bottom half were next on court, as second-seeded UCLA and USC looked to set up a Pac-12 showdown in the semifinals. The Bruins were up against Northwestern, a team fresh off of upsetting the host team and seventh-seeded Virginia. UCLA took the early advantage in doubles, but the Wildcats hung tough. The freshman duo of Robin Anderson and Skylar Morton, ranked No. 12 in the current Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, won 8-2 at the second spot, but the other matches were close most of the way. At the third position, Bruin pair McCall Jones and Carling Seguso finally pulled away from Kate Turvy and Brittany Wowchuk, winning the match 8-5.
UCLA came out on a mission in singles, led by Anderson’s 6-0, 6-0 victory at the first spot, exhibiting why she is ranked No. 8 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Singles Rankings. Anderson’s doubles partner wasn’t far behind in finishing off her match at the fourth spot, leaving the Bruins one point short of the win. Yet another freshman, Chanelle Van Nguyen, delivered the clincher, winning at the sixth position going away 6-4, 6-0.
“It is nice to win the doubles point, especially against a team like Northwestern because they have very good singles,” UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster explained. “They lost the doubles point yesterday but came back to win. I thought we played better doubles today and made some adjustments from yesterday. Robin is really seeing the ball well right now. I haven’t seen her play that well throughout a whole match in a while. She is really building her confidence. Every match was tough out there tonight, but we competed hard. Northwestern is a great team who is tough to play indoors.”
UCLA’s cross-town rival received a much stiffer test from the Tennessee Lady Vols. Tennessee looked to be in typical doubles form early, taking leads on all three courts. The Women of Troy were able to dig in and get level across the board, claiming the first completed match 8-5 at the third spot. Lady Vol duo Natalie Pluskota and Caitlyn Williams came through with a huge 9-7 win over the No. 5 team in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, USC’s Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria, making the match at the second spot the decisive match.
Danielle Lao and Ali Ramos of USC dug out of an early hole to claim a break advantage at 5-4 against Brynn Boren and Sarah Toti, ranked No. 18 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Doubles Rankings, on court two. Boren and Toti won the next two games to surge ahead 6-5, but Ramos was able to hold for 6-6 with a great mix of powerful groundstrokes and perfectly-timed lobs from the baseline. The Lady Vol tandem fell behind 0-30 in the next game, but regained their composure to hold for a 7-6 lead. Lao and Ramos appeared to be heading for a hold at 30-0, but a rash of errors by the Women of Troy cost them the match when Lao sprayed a backhand wide.
“I think so much emotion is surrounded around the doubles point,” USC head coach Richard Gallien said. “It is easy to get too hyped up if you win it, or too down if you lose it. I actually think we have competed well in doubles here. This is better for us than if we were just winning all of the doubles points easily.”
USC found itself in the same position as the day before against North Carolina, down 1-0 after dropping a gut-wrenching doubles point. But just as they did against the Tar Heels, the Trojans found a way to respond.
Doubles partners Christian and Santamaria, both ranked inside the top 100 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Singles Rankings, dropped a combined three games in four sets to push USC ahead 2-1. No. 42 Lao was the next Trojan to complete her match, getting past No. 27 Boren 6-3, 6-4. With the other two matches very much still hanging in the balance, Gabriella DeSimone came through with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph to move the Women of Troy on to the semifinals against the Bruins.
The final two matches of the day were consolation matches, but the competitive level of play was as high as it was all day. Host team Virginia was looking to bounce back from the disappointing loss to Northwestern in the opening round, taking on familiar ACC foe Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers came out hot in doubles once again, taking the matches at the first and second positions to claim the 1-0 advantage.
It was a while before the first singles match was completed, as No. 85 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings Hana Tomljanovic let a set and 5-1 lead almost completely evaporate. She was able to hold off Georgia Tech’s Jasmine Minor for the 6-2, 6-4 victory, putting the Cavaliers up 2-0. Yellow Jacket Jillian O’Neill got her team on the board with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win against Emily Fraser at the first position in a battle of players ranked inside the top 50 of the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, but Virginia freshman Li Xi moved the Cavaliers to within one match of clinching with her victory at the third spot. The final three matches went the distance, with Virginia’s No. 30 Lindsey Hardenbergh slipping past Tech’s Elizabeth Kilborn 6-4 in the third to give the Cavaliers the 4-1 win.
“The team did a great job of coming into the match with a lot of energy, which was tough after the loss last night,” Virginia head coach Mark Guilbeau stated. “I was so proud of how they came out for this match. There were a few momentum shifts and we were able to stay composed and pull it out at the end.”
The final match of the day was perhaps the most compelling, as third-seeded Baylor and sixth-seeded North Carolina were looking to rebound from tough first round matches. The Tar Heels made it two-for-two in doubles points this week, claiming the matches at the first and third positions for the early lead.
The outlook appeared ominous for the Bears, as their player at the sixth spot, Nicole Kosakowski, had to retire after dropping the opening set against Tessa Lyons. North Carolina’s Gina Suarez-Malaguti then breezed through her match 6-1, 6-0 to put her team ahead 3-0. The top of Baylor’s lineup worked hard to turn the momentum of the match, as the Bears produced straight-set victories at the top three positions to even the match at 3-3.
The only match left out on court was the contest at the fourth spot. North Carolina’s Caroline Price, ranked No. 55 nationally in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, took the first set from Ema Burgic 6-3 and managed to claim a break lead at 4-2 in the second. Burgic hung tough in the second set, getting back on serve at 4-4, eventually claiming the set 7-5. Both players continued to hit big shots through the entirety of the match, but Price began missing the mark a little too often, slipping behind 4-1 in the final set. Burgic managed to fight off break points to hold for 5-1, and while Price continued to battle, she could not overcome the errors she made from the baseline. Burgic watched a ball from Price’s racquet float long on match point, shooting a relieved look to her teammates as she clinched the 4-3 victory for the Bears.
“Unfortunately we have dropped the doubles point a lot this season," Baylor head coach Joey Scrivano explained. "The good thing about that is this team doesn’t panic. We really just stressed what was in front of us with the singles. North Carolina is such a good team, so there are going to be situations where you are down against them. It is all a matter of how you respond in those situations. This team fights, and they showed that tonight. We really had our backs against the wall after yesterday, and a lot of teams would have folded, but we kept fighting.”