Top Two Seeds to Play for 2012 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship Crown
Blue Devils, Bruins will meet at 11 am (ET) Monday morning
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at the 2012 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the University of Virginia at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va., were able to get through their semifinal matches on Sunday. Top-seeded Duke and second seed UCLA will now face off in the championship match at 11 am (ET).
The Blue Devils produced quality doubles play at the second and third spots again, following their recipe of success from the first two days of play. While California managed to take command on court one, Duke raced out to big leads on two and three quickly. Beatrice Capra and Rachel Kahan were the first to finish, taking care of Annie Goransson and Anett Schutting 8-3. The Golden Bears were just a few points away from claiming a win on court one, but Blue Devil duo Hanna Mar and Annie Mulholland were able to provide the clinching victory by defeating Tayler Davis and Cecilia Estlander 8-4 at the third spot.
Duke's strong doubles play continued on Sunday
With 11 of the 12 singles players scheduled to take the court holding a national Campbell/ITA ranking, Duke still had plenty of work to do to earn a trip to the finals. The top of California’s lineup came out on a mission to keep the Golden Bears alive. Jana Juricova, No. 5 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, fought back from being down an early break to take the opening set from No. 7 Beatrice Capra 6-4. At the second spot, No. 21 Zsofi Susanyi jumped ahead against No. 38 Hanna Mar by taking the opening set 6-2.
The Blue Devils showed off their tremendous depth in this one though, as the bottom three spots in the lineup delivered clutch performances on the day. Monica Turewicz, ranked No. 35 in the Campbell/ITA rankings, staked an early lead against No. 64 Estlander, never letting the Golden Bear in the match. Turewicz slightly struggled to close out the match, but did so successfully 6-2, 6-3. Kahan, ranked No. 118 in the Campbell/ITA rankings, overpowered No. 81 Goransson on court four, taking the match 6-0, 6-2 to put Duke one point away from clinching.
Susanyi was able to get California on the board with her 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Mar, but the Golden Bears couldn’t turn around the matches in which they trailed in early. Duke’s Mary Clayton, ranked No. 66 by the Campbell/ITA rankings, was able to fight through the first set against No. 74 Anett Schutting 7-5. With the momentum clearly on her side, Clayton sprinted out to a quick lead in the second and never gave Schutting a chance, winning the set 6-0 to advance the Blue Devils on to the championship match.
“We played really well today,” Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We see the strength of the Pac-12 with three teams here in the semifinals. In talking to people who had played Cal, they said Cal is the best team out of all the Pac-12 teams. It was huge to get the doubles point against them. We knew they were going to come out aggressive and hit balls right at us. We did a good job of taking that away from them though. We got off to good starts in singles as well. It was good to get quick sets at Nos. 3, 4, and 6. We could see it kind of deflate them. I thought we competed very well today. We are getting better every day, and hopefully we will come out and play our best tomorrow.”
The later semifinal match featured the battle of LA, as UCLA and USC took the court hoping to be the team to get a shot at top-seeded Duke in Monday’s final. The Women of Troy fell behind early on all three courts to the Bruins in doubles action, but managed to get back even across the board halfway through all three matches. USC ran away with the match at the third spot, but could not manage to claim a decisive lead in either of the other two matches.
UCLA duo of freshmen Robin Anderson and Skylar Morton, ranked No. 12 in the Campbell/ITA Rankings, were locked in a tight battle with No. 3 tandem Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria. The Bruin pair held a break lead at 6-5, but fell behind 0-40 on Morton’s serve. Anderson and Morton cleaned up their play quickly, fighting off those break points to earn the hold; Anderson served out the 8-6 win in their next service game. The focus turned to court two, where another freshman for UCLA, Chanelle Van Nguyen, was serving to clinch the doubles point. USC’s Danielle Lao and Ali Ramos managed to earn a break, but fell behind in their next service game. Montez drilled a volley into the tape on match point, with the ball popping up and landing on the Bruins’ side. Montez had another look at a backhand volley two points later, putting it away to give UCLA the 1-0 lead heading into singles.
As singles play began, the Women of Troy looked to be slowly turning the match in their favor, just as they had done the previous two days after dropping the doubles point. The Bruins found their way back into matches in which they trailed in early, while also not losing control of matches they staked leads in. With the matches on courts one through three going through several momentum shifts, UCLA’s freshmen at the bottom of the lineup produced impressive results to push the Bruins to victory.
Kaitlyn Ray won nine consecutive games before allowing Ramos to get on the board, eventually beating the Trojan 6-0 6-3 at the sixth spot. Morton fell behind early against Christian on court four, but fought back to even the set at 4-4. She held in the next game, putting the pressure on Christian’s serve at 5-4; Christian was unable to produce, giving Morton the first set 6-4. It appeared Morton would run away with the second when leading 4-1, but Christian wouldn’t go away quietly. The set eventually would be tied at 5-5, with Morton able to pick up her level of play to come away with the final two games of the match.
At the fifth spot, Van Nguyen raised her level of play at 3-3 in the first set to take it 6-3, only to suffer a severe drop in level of play in the second against USC’s Gabriella DeSimone. Van Nguyen was able to put the bad patch of play behind her, taking an early lead in the third set, eventually stretching the lead to 4-1. DeSimone extended a number of points in the next few games, but was unable to string together enough points to get back into the match; Van Nguyen clinched the victory for the Bruins with a 6-2 triumph in the third set.
Van Nguyen has been one of many freshmen to contribute to UCLA's success this week
“It is great to get the freshmen up to speed in a tournament like this," UCLA head coach Stella Sampras Webster explained. "They definitely lack experience, but they are buying in and it is paying off. Chanelle (Van Nguyen) just came in January. She is a great player, and we are learning so much more about her as a player this week. We have really been challenged this week. The freshmen are showing us a lot. It is nice to have strong players at Nos. 4-6. Duke is a strong team, so we will have to prepare our bodies for the match tomorrow. It is going to be tough. It will be a good experience because we won’t get a chance to see them again until NCAAs.”
Also on Sunday, consolation play wrapped up for the other 12 teams participating in the event. The Miami Hurricanes beat the Ole Miss Rebels 4-0; the loss was the second straight sweep the Rebels suffered after almost upsetting Duke in the first round. The Texas Longhorns claimed a dramatic 4-3 win over the Clemson Tigers, coming back from dropping the doubles point for their first match victory in the tournament.
The Georgia Bulldogs went out on a high note, knocking off the Michigan Wolverines 5-2 despite losses from two of its most experienced players. Another SEC school, the Tennessee Lady Vols, also left Charlottesville with a positive result on Sunday, battling past the Northwestern Wildcats 4-3. The Baylor Bears picked up another win, this time defeating the Virginia Cavaliers on their home courts by a score of 4-2. The final match of the night was an all-ACC battle, with the North Carolina Tar Heels getting past the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 4-2.