No. 26 Georgia Tech Downs No. 38 Oklahoma State 4-1 in NCAA Opener
Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The Georgia Tech women’s tennis team faced a ranked opponent in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005, but finished the day in the same fashion as it had in the previous 10 NCAA Tournament openers, with a 4-1 victory over the No. 38 Oklahoma State Cowgirls at the Alabama Tennis Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets improve to 15-11 on the season and have won six of their last seven matches, while the Cowgirls end their season with an 11-10 record. Tech advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time overall and 11th straight year.
Tech won the doubles point for the 17th time this season to begin the match. Lynn Blau and Elizabeth Kilborn earned their 18th doubles win of the spring with an 8-3 victory over the Cowgirls’ Meghan Blevins and Mary Jeremiah on court two.
Jillian O’Neill and Alex Anghelescu, ranked No. 23 in the latest college tennis polls, clinched the first point of the day for the Jackets with an 8-3 victory over OSU’s 39th-ranked side of Kanyapat Narattana and Malika Rose. It was the eighth win of the spring over a ranked foe for O’Neill and Anghelescu.
“I felt like we played really well in doubles today,” head coach Bryan Shelton said. “I was happy to see us come out and get the doubles point early with a really solid effort up and down the line. I felt like having a few weeks off from the ACC Tournament, we really kept the momentum going even though we had that break. It was great to start off with that.”
Tech started singles play slow, losing the first set on four of the six singles courts, but never gave up and continued to fight.
Senior Viet Ha Ngo was the first Tech individual to claim victory when she knocked off Isabela Miro 6-2, 6-0 on court six to put Georgia Tech up 2-0. Caroline Lilley rallied from a 6-1 first set loss to win the second set 6-2. The Portland, Ore., native, who graduated last Saturday, was up 4-3 in the third set over OSU’s Rose when the Cowgirl junior retired.
Oklahoma State got its only point of the day on court five when Mary Jeremiah downed the Yellow Jackets’ Blau in a tough 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 three-set match.
“Singles was really just a battle,” Shelton said. “We lost four of the six first sets. I liked the way we were resilient out there on the court, continued to compete and continued to play. We figured some things out on a couple of different courts and made some adjustments, which is always good to see.”
Up 3-1 in the team score, Tech needed to only win one of the three remaining singles matches to advance to the second round.
After dropping her first set 6-3, Anghelescu rallied to win the second set 7-5. O’Neill lost her first set 6-4, but posted a decisive 6-2 second set win and was leading 4-3 in the final set.
Kilborn tallied a 6-3 first set win, but fell behind 4-1 to begin the second set. She continued to fight and rallied for a 7-6(5) win to clinch the Yellow Jacket victory.
“Liz is a clutch player,” Shelton said. “If the match is on the line, we want her out there on the court. She proved it again today. She did it at the ACC Tournament when we played Miami and she did it again today, just coming through big. She was down 4-1 in the second set and took her time, got her composure back, and was able to rally and come back and win that in the tiebreak.
“I’m really pleased for her, but I’m pleased for the whole team. The goal is always to advance when you get into the tournament and we’re happy to have a chance to play tomorrow afternoon,” Shelton added.
The Yellow Jackets will be trying to advance to their seventh Sweet 16 when they take on the host and eighth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide at 1 p.m. CT Saturday. Alabama defeated Army 4-0 on Friday. Live scoring is available on RamblinWreck.com, and fans are encouraged to follow Tech tennis on Twitter @GT_WTEN and like us on Facebook, GTWomensTennis, for an inside look at the program.
NCAA First Round Photo Gallery: http://www.ramblinwreck.com/view.gal?id=119573
1. No. 23 Jillian O'Neill/Alex Anghelescu (GT) def. No. 39 Kanyapat Narattana/Malika Rose (OSU) 8-3
2. Lynn Blau/Elizabeth Kilborn (GT) def. Meghan Blevins/Mary Jeremiah (OSU) 8-3
3. Caroline Lilley/Muriel Wacker (GT) vs. C.C. Sardinha/Isabela Miro (OSU) 4-6, unf.
Order of Finish: 2,1
1. No. 11 Jillian O'Neill vs. C.C. Sardinha (OSU) (GT) 6-4, 2-6, 4-3, unf.
2. Caroline Lilley (GT) def. Malika Rose (OSU) 1-6, 6-1, 3-0, ret.
3. Elizabeth Kilborn (GT) def. Meghan Blevins (OSU) 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)
4. Alex Anghelescu (GT) vs. Kanyapat Narattana (OSU) 3-6, 7-5, unf.
5. Mary Jeremiah (OSU) def. Lynn Blau (GT) 6-2, 1-6, 6-4
6. Viet Ha Ngo (GT) def. Isabela Miro (OSU) 6-2, 6-0
Order of Finish: 6,2,5,3