STARKVILLE, Miss.—Freshman Silvia Garcia clinched Georgia’s spot in the 2013 SEC Tournament finals with a thrilling 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win over Antonia Foehse, giving the Bulldogs a 4-2 win over Alabama Saturday afternoon at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
Garcia beat Alabama’s Antonia Foehse 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 to send Georgia to its 18th SEC Tournament finals appearance.
“You come here and know you’re going to be playing the best and Alabama played a great match today,” said head coach Jeff Wallace. “I thought doubles was really well played. We stepped it up at the right times to get that doubles point which was important. Singles was a battle on every court. Silvia did a great job closing it out, Kate came back by playing some strong tennis and Lauren looked great from start to finish. Everyone else was out there fighting. That’s what the semifinals is all about.”
Georgia (21-2) won a tight doubles point, its 21st of the season, then won singles matches on courts one, five and four to beat the No. 8 Crimson Tide (19-5) for the second time in six days.
Georgia stole the momentum early by winning a tight doubles point. Ayaka Okuno and Lilly Kimbell topped Alabama’s Emily Zabor and Natalia Maynetto, 8-3. The Georgia duo won the match’s final five games. The Bulldogs clinched the point when the top-ranked pair of Kate Fuller and Silvia Garcia outlasted No. 6 Alexa Guarachi and Mary Anne Macfarlane, 9-7. Georgia broke the Crimson Tide at 7-7 and then Garcia served to win the match. It’s the second time this season that Fuller and Garcia have beaten Zabor and Maynetto.
The No. 62 duo of Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase trailed 7-5 and was serving when the match was suspended. They trailed 5-0 early in the match, but got several early breaks, including a marathon point at 6-3, to get within a break.
In singles, Herring, the sixth-ranked player in the country, was first off the courts with a 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Alabama’s No. 29 Macfarlane. Herring won nine of the final 11 games to pick up her 35th win of the year.
Alabama evened the score with wins on courts two and five. Okuno and Kowase both fell 6-4, 6-3 to No. 113 Natalia Maynetto and No. 47 Alexa Guarachi, respectively.
Later, Fuller set the stage for Garcia’s clinch, giving Georgia a 3-2 advantage after beating Alabama’s No. 111 Jansen, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. Fuller broke Jansen at 3-3 in the third, and controlled the match until the end. The win was Fuller’s fifth in a row.
Georgia improves to 39-2 all-time versus Alabama, including 4-0 at the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs are riding an 11-match winning streak.
Georgia will play the winner of this afternoon’s second semifinal between Florida and Texas A&M Sunday at 2 p.m. ET in the championship match. Earlier this season, Georgia lost to Florida in Gainesville, Fla. but beat Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
(1) Georgia 4, (4) Alabama 2
1. #1 Kate Fuller/Silvia Garcia (UGA) vs. #6 Alexa Guarachi/Mary Anne Macfarlane (UA), 9-7
2. #62 Maho Kowase/Lauren Herring (UGA) vs. #85 Antonia Foehse/Maya Jansen (UA), 5-7, uf.
3. Ayaka Okuno/Lilly Kimbell (UGA) vs. Emily Zabor/Natalia Maynetto (UA), 8-3
Order of Finish: (3, 1)
1. #6 Lauren Herring (UGA) def. #29 Mary Anne Macfarlane (UA), 6-3, 6-2
2. #47 Alexa Guarachi (UA) def. #13 Maho Kowase (UGA), 6-4, 6-3
3. #89 Silvia Garcia (UGA) def. Antonia Foehse (UA), 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
4. Kate Fuller (UGA) def. #111 Maya Jansen (UA), 2-6, 6-1, 6-3
5. #113 Natalia Maynetto (UA) def. Ayaka Okuno (UGA), 6-4, 6-3
6. Mia King (UGA) vs. Emily Zabor (UA), 6-2, 6-7 (6), 1-4, uf
Order of Finish: (1, 5, 2, 4, 3)