The Florida Gators and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had never met in a women's tennis match but their first meeting was a memorable one. Florida, the No. 6 seed, denied third seed Georgia Tech a chance at their second NCAA championship with a 4-2 win Saturday evening at the Michael Case Tennis Center.
The doubles point went to the Gators, for the 26th time in 26 matches this year, when they got wins from No. 2 and No. 3 within seconds of each other. The two teams each gathered three first sets, making the match a tossup, until Florida's Anastasia Revzina came back to take the second set from Noelle Hickey at No. 6. The momentum began to shift in the Gators favor then, even when Julia Cohen at No. 1 and Csilla Borsanyi at No. 2 fell behind in their second sets.
Florida grabbed point number two when senior Whitney Benik closed out Christy Striplin 6-2, 6-0 at No. 4. Tech's Amanda McDowell got the defending champions on the board with an equally one-sided 6-2, 6-0 win over Borsanyi, but Florida's Marrit Boonstra closed out Kirsten Flower 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5 to get the Gators point number three. Kristi Miller closed the gap for the Yellow Jackets with her 6-2, 6-3 win over Cohen, but by that time, Revzina had taken a 5-1 lead on Hickey. As the Florida men's team vocally supporting her every shot, Revzina gave the freshman no chance for a miracle comeback, putting her team in Final Four for the third time in the last four years with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory.
"Our guys did an amazing job," said Revzina. "They cheered the whole match. I enjoyed my match today. I think it was good tennis, and I liked it a lot."
Tech coach Bryan Shelton gave credit to Revzina for spinning that match in her favor.
"Florida played great tennis when they were in a position to win," Shelton said. "Down there at No. 6, the girl stepped up and really went for her shots and was committed. And the balls went in. Our team just has to take our hats off to them, say good job and good luck the rest of the way."
"Nas (Revzina) played some of the best tennis she's played all year," said Florida coach Roland Thornqvist. "Overall I'm tremendously pleased with the way we played. We knew coming into today that they did not want to give up their crown, and we had to play at a very high level to win. I was particularly proud to see how we played at the end of 2 and 3 doubles, to get the doubles point. That's something you like to see as a coach, that you can step up your play in the clutch."
2007 finalist UCLA is aiming for another shot at the title, hoping to step into the spot vacated by Georgia Tech. The seventh-seeded Bruins looked nearly invincible, and coach Stella Sampras Webster called the team "one of the best we've ever had at UCLA."
They certainly looked it against Arkansas, a 17-32 seed who had eliminated No. 2 seed Georgia on Thursday. The Bruins took the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 2 and kept their momentum with four first set wins in singles. Tracy Lin breezed past Ela Kaluder at No. 2 by a 6-2, 6-2 score, and moments later, Yasmin Schnack took out Arkansas's Anouk Tigu 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3 to make it 3-0. UCLA's Reza Zalameda and Aurelija Miseviciute were engaged in an entertaining battle at No. 1 with Misceviciute winning the first set and Zalamenda taking the second, just as Bruin freshman Andrea Remynse was reaching match point against Maryori Franco at No. 4. With a minimum of drama, Remnysne took it 6-2, 6-2, and the Bruins became the second Pac-10 team in the Final Four.
"To have two Pac-10 teams in the Final Four is just awesome," said Sampras Webster. "I think that's what makes us better, is our teams are strong and we're definitely pushed every time we play a Stanford, a Cal, a USC. And we play all those teams twice, every year. It definitely makes us a better team."
UCLA will play Florida and California will take on Baylor at noon on Monday. For complete scores, see the Tulsa website. For additional coverage, check out collegeandjuniortennis.com and the Tulsa World.
Saturday, May 17, 2008