Friday, May 25, 2007

Top-seed Cohen Stages Remarkable Comeback; Frazier Saves Match Points in Victory over Logar

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Athens, GA--

"This isn't the way I want to go out," No. 1 Audra Cohen of Miami said to herself trailing a set, 4-0 and 0-40 to Celia Durkin (9) of Stanford. "I would never want to lose like this," she recounted after the match. "I was just playing sloppy tennis and I didn't want to leave here feeling poorly about my tennis, so I stepped it up."

After Cohen dropped her serve for a second time in the second set to go down 3-0, she took a bathroom break. When told by the chair umpire that she couldn't change her shirt at the same time, Cohen angrily threw it back toward the bench and stormed off to the rest room.

"When I pulled it back together and took a bathroom break and took a little bit of pressure off myself, I got myself back in the match and I was fine," Cohen said.

But not immediately. Durkin held, and Cohen didn't look that interested in what was happening on the court through the first three points of her service game. Durkin was attacking Cohen's slice backhand and waiting for the errors, but suddenly Cohen seemed to relax and begin getting balls where she wanted them. Durkin lost the next six games and although she broke Cohen to open the third set, the junior from Los Angeles was out of answers, falling 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

"She's just such a momentum player," Cohen said. "Once I stopped just feeding her balls to hit winners off of and started playing more aggressive tennis and smarter defense, I got back into the match. Once I did that, a lot of opportunities opened up and I saw a lot more of the court."

Baylor's Zuzana Zemenova was happy to see the Athens courts again. She was NCAA champion as a freshman when the women's event was last held on the University of Georgia's campus in 2005. Although unseeded this year, Zemenova cleared her own path with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over No. 3 seed Melanie Gloria of Fresno State, and pointed to a strategy change as the key to her comeback from down 4-1 in the third set.

"She's a good mover, and so I hit more to her forehand," said Zemenova. "I could see it was working, so I got more confidence, and she started to miss. But it was a really tough match; I imagined I was going out."

Usually an unseeded player who plays in the six slot, even one from Stanford, would be the top story by advancing to the quarterfinals, but Cardinal freshman Lindsay Burdette's 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-4 victory over Georgia Rose (9) took a back seat to not one but two losses by her teammates.

In a match that ran over three-and-a-half hours, Stanford senior Theresa Logar (9) fought back from losing the first nine games of the match to hold three match points against seventh-seeded Natalie Frazier of Georgia, but was beaten by the shot of the tournament in the third set tiebreak, losing 6-0, 5-7, 7-6 (6).

After Frazier had saved her three match points at 3-5 and 5-4 in the third set, she went up 6-4 in the final tiebreak, which featured blistering ground strokes and twice as many winners as errors. But the feisty Logar, who had outlasted Catherine Newman in a third set tiebreak in another three-and-a-half-hour marathon, didn't know she was beaten. She hit a backhand winner for 6-5 and was fortunate on the next point when Frazier's backhand swinging volley caught the net and went wide. At 6-6, Frazier's serve produced a return error from Logar, but after the ups and downs of the previous two and a half hours, one more match point saved was almost expected.

Logar gained the advantage, and as Frazier's weak reply floated toward her, the left-hander from Michigan prepared for the smash, and Frazier retreated. She stayed in the center of the court and reflexed a perfect lob over Logar. Logar looked back as if she couldn't grasp what had just happened, while the several hundred Georgia fans rose in unison cheering not just for Frazier's victory, but for the incredible match they had just witnessed.

In the other Round of 16 women's action Friday, Kristi Miller (6) defeated unseeded Nina Henkel of Cal-Berkeley 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. She will face Lindsey Nelson of USC, who beat unseeded Megan Alexander of Floria 6-2, 6-4. Frazier's opponent is No. 2 Megan Falcon of LSU, who took out Cal's Zsuzsanna Fodor (9) 6-1, 6-4. Cohen and Burdette are in one upper-half quarterfinal, while the other features two unseeded players--Zemenova and UCLA's Tracy Lin. Lin defeated Csilla Borsanyi of Florida 6-4, 7-6 (3).

For complete results, see georgiadogs.com.