©Colette Lewis 2009--
College Station, TX--
The University of Georgia is the No. 2 seed on the women's side, but the difference between the Bulldogs and their SEC rivals the Florida Gators, seeded 15th, took a long time to surface. Eventually Naoko Ueshima came from 5-1 down in the second set to take out Barbara Pineterova at No. 5, but a long, hot trip it was.
Ueshima had beaten Pinterova both times they had played previously, when Florida had beaten Georgia 4-3 in March and when Georgia had returned the favor in the SEC championship semifinals 4-2 in April. She said she knew what she had to do to win, but after a first set that lasted longer than a couple of the other matches, Ueshima seemed to have forgotten just what that was.
Down 5-1, she came back, and what she called her consistency eventually earned her the 6-3, 7-6(2) win in just under three hours. In the other match still going on, Georgia's Yvette Hyndman had reached match point against Florida's Anastasia Revzina at No. 2 singles, but didn't get to finish at 4-6, 7-5, 5-2. Revzina had served for the match in the second set at 5-4, but Hyndman fought back to force a third set. She got up a break early in the third, and in the 90 degree heat, Revzina seemed to lack the energy to fight back.
Florida coach Roland Thornqvist thought losing the doubles point was a factor, but admitted that about an hour and a half into the singles, Florida was near even. But when Revzina couldn't finish, and Georgia's Chelsey Gullickson came back to win at No. 1, after losing the second set to Marrit Boonstra, the momentum started to go in the Bulldogs direction.
"I was really proud of our team to come out and get that doubles point," said Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace. "We've been working hard on doubles, focusing on the possibility of playing those guys (Florida) again in doubles, and I really thought we did a great job. But I'll tell you what, when Georgia and Florida play, it's always a dogfight. They came out and played great in singles, and it was hard-fought tennis all the way until the end."
Georgia meets another SEC foe in the quarterfinals in the No. 22-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, who beat No. 32 Washington by a very deceptive 4-0 score. South Carolina won the doubles point and all six first sets in singles, but the Huskies fought back to win four second sets and keep the match going even after South Carolina won in straights at No. 1, with Gira Scholfield beating Venise Chan, and Dijana Stojic defeating Lina Xu at No. 3. The clinching match turned out to be Ana Zubori's, when she broke Washington freshman Denise Dy for a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 win.
Washington head coach Jill Hultquist was proud of the way her team fought back to make a match of it, but felt that her squad may have suffered, not from the heat, but from the lack of experience in the Sweet 16. She thought that her young team, with no seniors, were "wondering" what it would be like, never having reached the final 16 before, and would benefit from having the opportunity.
Georgia won their only encounter this year with South Carolina 6-1, back in March.
For complete results, see the aggieathletics website.
Friday, May 15, 2009