UT junior All-American Aeriel Ellis saves three match points and wins in three sets to advance to the second round of singles at the NCAA Championship.
Ellis Rallies for Three-Set Win in Opening Round of NCAA Championship
ATHENS, Ga. – Texas junior All-American Aeriel Ellis stands one win away from securing a second consecutive ITA All-America honor after saving three match points and rallying for a three-set win Wednesday in the opening round of singles play at the NCAA Championship.
The 40th-ranked Ellis toughed it out for nearly three hours on a warm Georgia afternoon and rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 win over Georgia’s 58th-ranked Maho Kowase to advance to the round of 32 in the singles draw. Ellis will face South Carolina’s 45th-ranked Anya Morgina in the round of 32 on Thursday at a time to be announced later.
A win for Ellis would make her an ITA singles All-American for a second consecutive season. All players who reach the round of 16 in the singles draw are assured of All-America status.
Ellis and Kowase each held serve through the opening five games of the first set before Kowase broke Ellis for a 4-2 lead. Kowase held serve and broke Ellis once more to take the set, 6-2.
Kowase broke Ellis for a 3-1 second-set lead, but Ellis broke Kowase and held serve to even the set at three. Kowase later held serve for a 6-5 lead and had three match points on Ellis’ serve, but Ellis fought back and claimed the next five points to take the game and force a tiebreaker. Ellis took a 6-3 lead in the tiebreaker and held on for a 7-5 win to force a third set.
“Her opponent was playing extremely well and had the whole crowd behind her,” said UT head coach Patty Fendick-McCain. “It took Aeriel some time to find her form, and it was nip-and-tuck in the second set, but she kept doing all the right things.”
Ellis held serve to open the third set and broke Kowase’s serve in the following game to ultimately take control of the set. Ellis held serve and later broke Kowase once more for a 5-1 lead. Ellis finished off Kowase with a forehand winner in the ensuing game to win the match, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1.
“She played the best third set I’ve ever seen her play and just took control,” Fendick-McCain said. “I’m proud of how she was able to stay in the moment and focus on her strategy. She made some adjustments, put pressure on her opponent and knew where every ball was going in the third set.”
NCAA Championship – Singles Round of 64
Dan Magill Tennis Complex – Athens, Ga.
#40 Aeriel Ellis (UT) def. #58 Maho Kowase (UGA) 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1
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