#6 UNC d. #15 Georgia 4-3
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.-----Sixth-ranked North Carolina held off a furious comeback attempt by 15th-ranked Georgia Sunday, edging the Bulldogs 4-3 to advance to the round of 16 of the ITA National Team Indoor Women’s Tennis Championships.
The match at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center came down to a third set tiebreaker at No. 2 singles where junior Shinann Featherston rallied past Bulldog freshman Maho Kowase 3-6,6-3,7-6(2). Georgia (2-1) managed to tie the team match three times but the Tar Heels held on to qualify for next month’s ITA National Team Indoors in Charlottesville, Va.
“It was an epic battle and a great experience for our team, and unfortunately we came up just short,” said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace. “You have to credit North Carolina, they won a tight match starting with the doubles point and there was some great tennis today. Chelsey (Gullickson) got us going in singles and Cameron (Ellis) was fantastic again and I liked how Alexandra bounced back today. We didn’t get it done at No. 4 and 6. Maho had some opportunities but it was UNC who won it in a third set tiebreaker.”
UNC (4-0) claimed a hard-fought doubles point for a 1-0 advantage. UNC’s No. 2 team of Jelena Durisic and Tessay Lyons, ranked 80th nationally, rallied back from a 6-5 deficit to defeat the tandem of Kowase and Lilly Kimbell 8-6. It snapped a nine-match winning streak for the Bulldog duo, as they are 9-2 in their career. Then, UNC’s eighth-ranked duo of Featherston and Lauren McHale edged Chelsey Gullickson and Kate Fuller 8-6 to clinch the first team point. Georgia’s Alexandra Anghelescu and Cameron Ellis led their No. 3 match 7-5 but play was suspended with the team point determined.
Gullickson got the Bulldogs on the board with an impressive victory at No. 1 to even the match at 1-1, crushing 13th-ranked Zoe De Bruycker 6-1, 6-2. Gullickson, the defending NCAA singles champion, is 5-0 this year. The Tar Heels went back on top 2-1 following Gina Suarez-Malaguti’s win at No. 4. She beat 95th-ranked Kimbell 6-0,6-4. At that point, Georgia had won the first set in three of the four remaining matches while UNC had a big lead at No. 6. Ellis squared the match again with a 6-2,6-3 win at No. 5. The 58th-ranked senior Bulldog defeated 86th-ranked McHale for her sixth straight victory and moved her record to 16-3 this season. However, UNC moved to within one win of clinching the victory when Haley Hemm closed out Fuller at No. 6, posting a 6-1,6-2 decision. It gave the Tar Heels a 3-2 lead in the match.
Georgia would need to win the remaining two matches. At No. 2, the 97th-ranked Kowase had split sets with 54th-ranked Featherston. Meanwhile at No. 3, Anghelescu was up 7-5,3-1 on 92nd-ranked Durisic. Anghelescu would knot the match at 3-all when she defeated Durisic 7-5,6-4. All eyes turned to court two when Kowase was up 3-2 in the deciding set that would determine the overall match. The pair battled to 6-all, and the match came down to a tiebreaker. Despite the loss, Kowase leads the Bulldogs with an 18-6 singles record this year.
Georgia will be back in action indoors Friday at 5 p.m. when it plays host to 13th-ranked Georgia Tech (3-0). The match will be at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Center and it’s free admission.
#6 UNC 4, #15 Georgia 3
ITA Kickoff Weekend, 2nd Round, Chapel Hill, N.C.
No. 1 #8 Featherston/McHale (UNC) def. Gullickson/Fuller (UGA) 8-6
No. 2 #80 Durisic/Lyons (UNC) def. Kowase/Kimbell (UGA) 8-6
No. 3 #40 Anghelescu/Ellis (UGA) vs. Bruckyer/Stone (UNC), unfinished (7-5)
No. 1 Chelsey Gullickson (UGA) def. #13 Zoe De Bruycker (UNC) 6-1,6-2
No. 2 #54 Shianann Featherston (UNC) def. #97 Maho Kowase (UGA) 3-6,6-3,7-6(2)
No. 3 Alexandra Anghelescu (UGA) def. #92 Jelena Durisic (UNC) 7-5,6-4
No. 4 Gina Suarez-Malaguti (UNC) def. #95 Lilly Kimbell (UGA) 6-0,6-4
No. 5 #58 Cameron Ellis (UGA) def. #86 Lauren McHale (UNC) 6-2,6-3
No. 6 Haley Hemm (UNC) def. Kate Fuller (UGA) 6-1,6-2
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,*1); Singles (1,4,5,6,3,**2)
*Clinched point; **clinched match
Team Records: UGA now 2-1, UNC 4-0