NEW ORLEANS – It was a contest that was originally scheduled to played over a month ago, but for the Tulane University women’s tennis team, it was worth the wait as the Green Wave defeated Conference USA foe Memphis, 6-1, Tuesday morning at the Goldring Tennis Center.
Originally slated to battle the Tigers in Houston back on Feb. 21 only to have the match postponed due to inclement weather, Tulane won a hotly-contested doubles point, two matches to one, and emerged victorious in five of the six singles contests to wrap up the regular season 12-11 overall and 3-4 in C-USA play. Memphis, meanwhile, concludes the regular season 10-12 on the year and 2-3 in league action.
“A 6-1 victory today over a team as talented as Memphis is a good confidence builder for us,” Tulane head women’s tennis coach Terri Sisk said. “This match was a lot closer than the score actually reflects. I think the girls did a great job today of when we hit those valleys, we were able to climb back out of them. That is something that we’ve discussed all year and they are peaking at the right time in that particular part of the game. I think it was a great effort today by both teams.”
Memphis got off to a good start as the doubles tandem of Ashley Murdock and Marjorie Ondeck made quick work of Anna Bartenstein and Elizabeth Hamlin on Court 1, 8-3. Tulane evened the contest with an 8-2 victory by Marcela Fonseca and Jessica Lange over Sarah Irvin and Kristin Chamberlain on Court 3 and the point came down to the results on Court 2 where Mariam Kurdadze and Lindsay Dvorak locked horns with Amanda Brown and Lindsey Wiseman.
The two teams traded points early on, but with the Tulane tandem leading 7-6 late in the match, Kurdadze and Dvorak rallied to outscore the Tiger team 2-1 the rest of the way to give the Green Wave a 1-0 advantage heading into singles play.
“That was clutch,” Sisk said of Tulane winning the doubles point. “With it being such an emotional doubles point, we knew we needed that point playing a team like Memphis. Going into singles up 1-0 is always easier. It doesn’t always mean that you’re going to close out the match, but it takes a little bit of pressure off. I think that was a huge momentum builder for us today.”
Memphis tied the score courtesy of Brown’s 6-2, 6-1 win over Dvorak on Court 3, but that would be the lone point of the day for the Tigers as Tulane took control from there. Three of the remaining five contests went the distance, but Tulane came out on top in each case.
The Wave claimed the lead for good when Kurdadze finished off Ondeck on Court 2, 6-1, 6-1, and took a 3-1 advantage moments later when Fonseca swept Irvin on Court 5, 6-3, 6-4. Caroline Gerber scored the winning point with a 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-0 win over Chamberlain in No. 4 action, and Bartenstein made it a 5-1 affair after outlasting Murdock on Court 1, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
The longest match of the day came on Court 6 where Hamlin and Wiseman squared off. Wiseman took the early advantage with a 7-6 (7-5) win in the opening stanza, but Hamlin roared back with a 6-0 shutout in the second set to send the match into a third-and-deciding frame. The two players traded blows for most of the match, but with the score tied at 5-all, Hamlin scored the final two points of the day to account for the final score.
“That’s one of the components of the game that we talk a good bit about,” Sisk said of her team’s effort in three-set matches. “Whether you lose or you win that first set, you’ve got to continue to play to win. I thought they handled themselves very well in that regard today. It is one of those things that you keep talking about it and you know it’s going to turn around. It worked in our favor today.”
The Green Wave return to action on Thursday, April 16, when they travel to Houston for the 2009 Conference USA Tournament, hosted by Rice at the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium. Tulane earned the tourney’s No. 10 seed and will battle seventh-seeded UCF (11-9) at 2 p.m. (CDT). The tournament continues through Sunday with the championship match slated for 10 a.m. and the winner receiving the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
TULANE (12-11, 3-4 C-USA) 6, MEMPHIS (10-12, 2-3 C-USA) 1
No. 1 – Anna Bartenstein (TLN) def. Ashley Murdock (UM) – 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
No. 2 – Mariam Kurdadze (TLN) def. Marjorie Ondeck (UM) – 6-1, 6-1
No. 3 – Amanda Brown (UM) def. Lindsay Dvorak (TLN) – 6-2, 6-1
No. 4 – Caroline Gerber (TLN) def. Kristin Chamberlain (UM) – 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-0
No. 5 – Marcela Fonseca (TLN) def. Sarah Irvin (UM) – 6-3, 6-4
No. 6 – Elizabeth Hamlin (TLN) def. Lindsey Wiseman (UM) – 6-7 (5-7), 6-0, 7-5
No. 1 – Murdock/Ondeck (UM) def. Bartenstein/Hamlin (TLN) – 8-3
No. 2 – Kurdadze/Dvorak (TLN) def. Brown/Wiseman (UM) – 9-7
No. 3 – Fonseca/Jessica Lange (TLN) def. Irvin/Chamberlain (UM) – 8-2
QUOTES FOLLOWING TULANE’S 6-1 C-USA WIN OVER MEMPHIS
TULANE HEAD COACH TERRI SISK
Overall thoughts on the win over the Tigers
“A 6-1 victory today over a team as talented as Memphis is a good confidence builder for us. This match was a lot closer than the score actually reflects. I think the girls did a great job today of when we hit those valleys, we were able to climb back out of them. That is something that we’ve discussed all year and they are peaking at the right time in that particular part of the game. I think it was a great effort today by both teams.”
On winning the doubles point, 2-1
“That was clutch. With it being such an emotional doubles point, we knew we needed that point playing a team like Memphis. Going into singles up 1-0 is always easier. It doesn’t always mean that you’re going to close out the match, but it takes a little bit of pressure off. I think that was a huge momentum builder for us today.”
On the team being able to win in three sets whether they were up one or down one after the first set
“That’s one of the components of the game that we talk a good bit about. Whether you lose or you win that first set, you’ve got to continue to play to win. I thought they handled themselves very well in that regard today. It is one of those things that you keep talking about it and you know it’s going to turn around. It worked in our favor today.”
On if the win is a nice confidence boost to the team heading into the C-USA Tournament
“With the exception of the match against Kansas, we’ve really turned it around in a lot of areas on the court over these last five or six weeks. I see the girls starting to get a bit of an upper-classmen mentality, and that is something that we’ve been pushing for. It’s a huge momentum builder and confidence builder to win, knowing that we start off (the C-USA Tournament) on Thursday afternoon against the No 7 team, UCF. We lost to them, 4-3, this year and that match came down to a lot of close matches. I think this will help push us over the edge to get ready for that particular program.”
On Tulane’s seeding in the 2009 Conference USA Tournament
“A lot of people have asked me how I feel about being the No. 10 seed with two teams ahead of you that you’ve beaten. It really doesn’t matter to us because it’s like I said – this first year, it’s all about getting better and doing things the right way. The victories will take care of themselves.”
On Tulane’s first-round opponent in the C-USA Tourney, the UCF Knights
“We’re going to regroup and start preparing for UCF tomorrow morning when we hit the practice courts. We do understand, though, that UCF is a talented team 1-6 and their doubles team is very strong. They’ve got some nice wins this year. Every time we play a match with this young of a team, we learn something from it. Today, I think it really opened their eyes to realize that it does not matter what the score is in the match or where you are in the match. You can fight out of it and you can turn something your way with a break or two. You can fight through it and come out on top. I’m just excited to play them again. There are three or four teams on the schedule this year that we wanted to play again, and this was one of those teams. So in a way, I’m really happy that we get a chance to play UCF in the first round.”
On if her team is focused on winning the 2009 Conference USA Tournament
“This is what we care about – if we do everything right and we put into play everything we’ve harped on all year, then good things will happen. There are a lot of talented teams in Conference USA this year. SMU is No. 22 in the country right now and they’re going to be a tough team to beat. They’re very top heavy. But I’m not really thinking about winning the conference tournament. I don’t care about that. What I care about is beating UCF. Once we take that, we’ll take it one day at a time. If we can get through UCF, then we’ll focus on Tulsa. If we can get through Tulsa, then we’ll worry about the next team. We’re just going to handle it day by day.”
MEMPHIS HEAD COACH LEE TAYLOR WALKER
Overall thoughts on the loss to Tulane
“I think Terri has a great team. We knew it was going to be a battle. On our way down here, we were talking in the van that this might go 4-3. It didn’t – it wound up being 6-1 – but it still had the feeling of a 4-3 match with so many three-setters. I felt confident going into conference. Obviously, you’d like to get some wins, but our focus was to get our girls match tough today.”
On if today’s loss puts a damper on his team’s spirits heading into the C-USA Tournament
“Yes and no. Yes, because there is no other way to get confidence besides winning. When you win, you gain confidence. And I’d say no just because we’re getting into the flow of things. We’re getting match tough. It’s going to feel like this on Thursday.”
On dropping a hotly-contested doubles point
“That really hurt. In a lot of these matches, we were right there. A lot of it is coaching too, having to teach people how to close out and that really creates momentum.”
On what it is like having Tulane back on the schedule in 2009
“I love it. This is the beginning of what is going to be a good rivalry. Coach Sisk has already put together a great team in her first year here, and she’s going to have a great team year in and year out. I’m pumped to get to play them again every year and I can foresee us having a lot of great battles like we had here today.”