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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Georgia Tech and Cal reach Women's NCAA semifinals Monday

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Athens, GA--

The match everyone in the Peach State was hoping for--No. 2 Georgia against No. 3 Georgia Tech--is off. The Yellow Jackets did their part Sunday afternoon with a 4-2 victory over a Notre Dame team that proved very tough to take down, but the Cal-Berkeley Bears spoiled the party with a 4-1 upset of the Bulldogs late Sunday evening.

By the time the last ball was struck around 11 p.m on Sunday, when Cal's Cristina Visico put away an overhead to defeat Darya Ivanov 7-5, 6-4, only a few hundred of the nearly 1800 Georgia faithful remained. Although the Bulldogs had lost the doubles point to the tenth-seeded Bears, they were up a set in four of five matches, and Natalie Frazier pulled them even with a decisive 6-2, 6-2 victory over Susie Babos at No. 1.

But the tide turned when Nina Henkel came back to force a third set against Yvette Hyndman at No. 3, after Zsuzsanna Fodor had earned the Bears' second point with a straight set win over Monica Dancevic at No. 2.

Henkel finished strongly, taking the third set 6-4, meaning that Georgia needed to win all the three matches remaining at 4, 5, and 6. It was possible, with No. 4 early in the third set, and with a lead in the third at No. 6, but the problem was No. 5, where Visico had won the first set. Ivanov desperately needed the second set to give the Bulldogs any chance, but she couldn't capitalize on her opportunities, sending what remained of the crowd home subdued and disappointed.

In the afternoon match, Georgia Tech held a 1-0 lead after taking the doubles point, but it didn't last long, as Cosmina Ciobanu brought the sixth-seeded Irish even with a speedy 6-0, 6-1 victory over Christy Striplin at No. 5. Tech's Amanda Craddock won the battle of the freshmen at No. 3 with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Colleen Rielley, but the day's most notable battle was taking place on court 6.

I was sitting with West Nott of Underground Tennis in the stands between the two banks of courts, and I thought the scoreboard must have been malfunctioning. While most of our attention was on Craddock and Rielley, we were checking out the action on the other four courts still in play, and Tech's Tarryn Rudman and Brook Buck of Notre Dame were at 5-6 in the first set for what seemed like a very long time. Deuce after deuce, ad in and then ad out, the game went on, as it turned out, for over forty minutes. I later asked the chair umpire for the details and he counted up the deuces for me--18--,and the points--38-- probably more than were played in the entire first set of the Ciobanu - Striplin match. He said it was the longest game he has ever officiated at any level. Eventually it had to end, and when it did, Buck took it, and with the momentum generated from surviving that ordeal, went on to take the ensuing tiebreak in seven quick points. She then won the second set 6-2 to pull the Irish to within one point of Tech at 3-2. (In the meantime, Tech's Alison Silverio had defeated Christian Thompson at No. 2).

Christian's twin sister Catrina had forced Kristi Miller to a third set at No. 1, but another Tech freshman, Amanda McDowell, regrouped in the third set of her No. 4 singles contest with Kelcey Tefft and lifted her team to the semifinals for the first time in the program's history. McDowell, who took the third set 6-1 after a 6-3, 4-6 split, said afterward that she and coach Bryan Shelton had spoken about playing with no fear.

"Everyone wants to have the match on their racquet," said the Atlanta resident. "I wasn't going to let fear get in the way."

Shelton was hoping to face Georgia so his team could have a chance to experience the atmosphere of a packed house in Athens, but Cal didn't cooperate, giving the Pac-10 three teams in the semifinals, and assuring that at least one will be in Tuesday's final.

For complete results, visit georgiadogs.com.


Anonymous said...

You've probably read this story but, on the odd chance you haven't, here's the link

(requires free registration).

Will be interesting to see how Georgia Tech goes against Cal. If Miller can only slice the backhand, she's going to have a tough time against Babos, with the left-hander naturally directing her shots to that wing. Get through that match and you've, most likely, got Logar (another lefty) waiting in the final.

Anonymous said...

Playing a final four match at 9am. Wow...

I can't believe Illinois was able to make a run to the final four. Wish I could have seen that match with OSU.

USC proved they were one player away from a national championship. Sam Querrey was indeed the missing link to make them a title contender.

How injured is Stephen Bass?

Colette Lewis said...

Bass is waiting to see how his ankle responds to treatment. He is still here watching matches and limping.