Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Georgia's Jokic Clinches ITA Women's Team Indoor Title in Third Set Tiebreaker; Ohio State Top Seed in Men's Team Indoor Beginning Friday in Chicago

For the third day in a row No. 5 seed Georgia overcame the loss of the doubles point to eke out a 4-3 victory, with the stakes growing each day. Today in the final of the ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships in Seattle, the Bulldogs took out No. 2 seed and defending champion North Carolina, with sophomore Katarina Jokic once again providing the final point.

The doubles point gave no indication of the drama that was to come, with the Tar Heels winning at lines 1 and 2 by scores of 6-1, 6-2, while Georgia won at line 3 6-1.

In singles, Georgia pulled even quickly, with Elena Christofi beating Alle Sanford 6-2, 6-2 at line 5, but it was a long time before any other points were posted. With first sets in singles split evenly, Georgia needed to force a third set, and they got it when UNC's Alexa Graham was unable to close out Maria Lourdes Carle at line 3 despite leading 6-0, 5-3.  Georgia also earned a third set at line 4, with Vivian Wolff coming back against Cameron Morra and at line 1, with Jokic taking her second set with Makenna Jones.

Momentum began to swing toward Georgia when Meg Kowalski defeated Jessie Aney 6-2, 7-6(3) at line 6 for a 2-1 lead. Graham finally closed out Carle to pull the Tar Heels even, but Wolff claimed her match to make it 3-2 Georgia.

North Carolina's Sara Daavettlla had forced a third set in her match with Marta Gonzalez at line 2, but as Jokic earned her split on 1, Daavettila was already down a break in the third at 3-1. She lost her serve again on a deciding point and when Gonzalez held for a 5-1 lead, the final set in the match at line 1 didn't appear to have any significance. But Gonzalez couldn't get to match point on her first attempt to serve it out at 5-2, or at 5-4. Her only match point came the deciding point with Daavettila serving at 3-5, which Daavettila saved by forcing an error from Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, Jones had earned a 4-2 lead on 1, and a miracle comeback seemed possible for North Carolina, when Gonzalez again failed to serve out the championship up 6-5 in the third. Jokic had taken a medical timeout on court 1 after Jones went up 5-2 and when she returned to action, won four straight games.

With some big hitting, Daavettila dominated the tiebreaker, tying the score and giving North Carolina new hope. But Jones was broken at love, dampening the Tar Heel spirits, only to have them raised again when Jokic lost her serve at love to send the national championship to a third-set tiebreaker. Jones fell behind early and Jokic stepped up her game, with much of the drama drained from the outcome when Jones made an unforced error on the forehand side to fall behind 5-1. Jokic, who had clinched the 4-3 semifinal win over No. 1 Stanford on Monday, came through again, closing out the title on her second match point.

Having beaten No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 1 Stanford and No. 3 North Carolina in succession, Georgia will now move to No. 1 in the rankings. The National Indoor title is the first for Georgia since 2002, and they avenged their loss to North Carolina in the 2015 final.

For more on Georgia's title, see the Georgia athletic website.

No. 5 Georgia 4, No. 3 North Carolina 3 

1. #2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #6 Makenna Jones (UNC) 6-7 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (2)
2. #15 Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. #10 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3)
3. #7 Alexa Graham (UNC) def. #102 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 6-0, 5-7, 6-2
4. #58 Vivian Wolff (UGA) def. #20 Cameron Morra (UNC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
5. Elena Christofi (UGA) def. #104 Alle Sanford (UNC) 6-2, 6-2
6. #84 Meg Kowalski (UGA) def. Jessie Aney (UNC) 6-2, 7-6 (3)

Order of Finish: 5, 6, 3, 4, 2, 1

1. Aney/Graham (UNC) def. Carle/Wolff (UGA) 6-1
2. #5 Jones/Morra (UNC) def. Christofi/Coppoc (UGA) 6-2
3. Goulak/Gonzalez (UGA) def. Daavettila/Sanford (UNC) 6-1

Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2
The Men's ITA National Indoor Championships begin Friday in Chicago, with the University of Illinois serving as hosts.  Unlike the women's field, the men's field is seeded 1 through 16, and the draw was revealed today.  After No. 1 Wake Forest's loss to Virginia on Friday, the defending champions have dropped to No. 3 in the seedings, with Ohio State now No. 1.  Matchups for Friday's first round:

Ohio State[1] v Tulane[16]
Mississippi State[2] v TCU[15]
Wake Forest[3] v Columbia[14]
Florida[4] v USC[13]
Texas[5] v Illinois[12]
UCLA[6] v Notre Dame[11]
North Carolina[7] v Baylor[10]
Virginia[8] v Stanford[9]

Links to live scoring and streaming can be found at the Slam Tennis site.