ATLANTA – The No. 21 nationally ranked Ole Miss women’s tennis team pushed eighth-ranked Georgia Tech to the brink Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Championships before falling 4-1 here at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.
With the loss, the Rebels end their best season since 2005 with a 15-10 record. They advanced to the second round of the NCAAs for the first time since 2001 and defeated five top 25 teams in the SEC along the way, including advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA. They made it back into the top 25 for the first time in a long time.
Georgia Tech, the 2007 NCAA Champion, advances to the NCAA “Sweet Sixteen” next weekend in College Station, Texas.
“That was a great college tennis match. It shows where we are and what we’ve been able to accomplish this season and why we’re ranked what we are. We pushed these guys to the brink. We didn’t finish two matches where we had match points. We weren’t able to close out. Part of that is Georgia Tech. They’ve (GT) been in this situation, and they never gave up in those situations where they were down match point,” head coach Mark Beyers said.
Georgia Tech took the early advantage by claiming the doubles point with wins on courts two and three. First off the court, sophomore Laura van de Stroet and senior Mimi Renaudin dropped an 8-4 decision to Amanda McDowell and Lynn Blau on court three. With the 16th-ranked Ole Miss team of Kristi Boxx and Karen Nijssen leading 7-5 at No.1 doubles, Georgia Tech’s Irina Falconi and Sasha Krupina closed out an 8-5 win over the Rebel freshmen duo of Abigail Guthrie and Gabriela Rangel.
The Rebels came into the match 13-3 when winning the doubles point, but just 1-6 when losing the point.
The Rebels fell behind 2-0 when Georgia Tech freshman Irina Falconi, ranked No. 12, defeated 36th-ranked Boxx 6-0, 6-2. Georgia Tech then went up 3-0 when 62nd-ranked Noelle Hickey won a first set tiebreaker against van de Stroet and then took the second set 6-2.
Ole Miss didn’t fold however, coming back to take Georgia Tech to the end. The Rebels got on the board when Rangel came back to beat Yellow Jacket Lynn Blau 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. The Rebels had chances to make it even closer, as they had match points at courts two and six before Georgia Tech forced a third set on two and evened it up on six.
The Yellow Jackets closed out the win at No. 5 with Christy Striplin coming back to win a third set 6-0 after getting the second 6-2 against Guthrie. Guthrie won the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6(4).
“Again, it was a great college tennis match, but one has to be the winner and one has to be the loser,” Beyers added. Our girls represented Ole Miss and the Southeastern Conference very well today. I am proud of them for what they’ve accomplished this year. We would have loved to keep going, but it wasn’t’ to be.”
The Rebels return everybody from this year except Renaudin and will have the services of Pippa Reakes and transfer Connor Vogel.
1. Boxx/Nijssen (OM) vs. Striplin/Hickey (GT) 7-5
2. Falconi/Krupina (GT) def. Guthrie/Rangel (OM) 8-5
3. McDowell/Blau (GT) def. van de Stroet/Renaudin (OM) 8-4
Order of Finish: 3, 2
1. Irina Falconi (GT) def. Kristi Boxx (OM) 6-0, 6-2
2. Karen Nijssen (OM) vs. Amanda McDowell (GT) 7-5, 6-7(4), 3-1, sus.
3. Noelle Hickey (GT) def. Laura van de Stroet (OM) 7-6(3), 6-2
4. Christy Striplin (GT) def. Abigail Guthrie (OM) 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-0
5. Gabriela Rangel (OM) def. Lynn Blau (GT) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
6. Mimi Renaudin (OM) vs. Viet Ha Ngo (GT) 4-6, 6-0, 5-5, sus.
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 5, 4