URBANA, Ill. – Texas freshman Breaunna Addison rallied for a lengthy, three-set victory over North Carolina’s seventh-seeded Gina Suarez-Malaguti to reach the singles semifinals Saturday at the NCAA Championships. The first-semester freshman from Boca Raton, Fla., becomes the third Longhorn to reach the NCAA singles semifinals and the first to get there since Kelly Pace in 1995.
The 31st-ranked Addison defeated Suarez-Malaguti by a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 count to set up a NCAA Championship singles semifinal meeting on Sunday against Stanford’s Nicole Gibbs, the defending NCAA singles champion. The 13th-ranked Gibbs has yet to lose a set through the first four rounds of the singles draw. Nebraska’s 11th-ranked Mary Weatherholt will meet Alabama’s 36th-ranked Alexa Guarachi in the other semifinal on Sunday (start times have yet to be announced).
“It’s a blessing,” Addison said. “I’m honored to be here and make it this far. I just want to take it one match at a time and try not to be satisfied with what I’ve accomplished so far and just keep going.”
Suarez-Malaguti broke Addison’s serve to open the match, but Addison returned the favor and held serve for a 2-1 lead just before the match relocated indoors due to rain. The two exchanged service breaks, and each held serve once before Addison broke for a 5-3 lead. Suarez-Malaguti, however, broke Addison and held serve to even the set at five. Suarez-Malaguti broke Addison once more and held serve to close out the first set, 7-5.
Addison took control in set two after breaking Suarez-Malaguti for a 3-1 lead. Addison broke Suarez-Malaguti’s serve again and held serve for a 6-1 second-set victory.
“Bree made adjustments,” UT head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said. “Every point was another adjustment. I thought she really played the flow of the game well. She stepped up when she needed to, and she defended when she needed to. Bree really toughed out all the big points and came up with some good shots.”
Addison opened set three by breaking Suarez-Malaguti’s serve and holding serve for a 2-0 lead. Both players held serve until Suarez-Malaguti registered a service break to seven the set at three.
“I was up 3-1 in the third set and got a little passive,” Addison admitted. “I was not moving my feet, so I started to press a little. I really needed to change something up. I stayed really aggressive with my feet, started going for my shots, and it paid off.”
Addison and Suarez-Malaguti held serve in their ensuing service games until Addison broke for a 5-4 lead. Addison fought off break points and cashed in the third match point to close out the 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 win over the Tar Heel.
“Gina had a couple of (break point) opportunities, but I think the situation got to her, as well,” Addison said. “I just had to remember that she was under the same pressure I was. I was confident and going for my shots and trying to put pressure on her, and it went in my favor the rest of the match.”
The win was Addison’s second of the tournament over a seeded opponent. Addison defeated USC’s ninth-ranked Danielle Lao in the opening round. Addison’s 30th win of the season makes her the first Texas freshman to post 30 or more singles wins since Aeriel Ellis in 2010.
Atkins Indoor Tennis Center – Urbana, Ill.
Women’s Singles Quarterfinals
No. 31 Breaunna Addison (UT) def. No. 7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti (UNC) – 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
Breaunna Addison – 2013 Honor Roll
• Joins Kelly Pace (1993 & 1995) and Beverly Bowes (1986) as the only Longhorns ever to reach the NCAA singles semifinals
• First UT freshman to reach the NCAA singles quarterfinals or beyond
• The fifth Longhorn to advance to the NCAA singles quarterfinals or beyond
• Collected the first win by a UT freshman in the NCAA singles draw since 1996 (Sandy Sureephong)
• The first UT freshman to earn ITA singles All-America honors since Susan Gilchrist in 1990
• The first UT freshman All-American (singles or doubles) since Cristina Moros in 1995
• 30-6 overall singles record (through May 25)
• First UT freshman to win 30 matches in a season since Aeriel Ellis in 2010
• NCAA Championships singles and doubles qualifier
• No. 31 ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) singles ranking
• No. 19 ITA doubles ranking (with Noel Scott)
• ITA Texas Region Rookie of the Year (includes all Div. I women’s tennis programs in the state of Texas)
• Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year
• All-Big 12 singles and doubles
Texas’ singles semifinalists at the NCAA Championships
Breaunna Addison (2013)
Kelly Pace (1993, 1995)
Beverly Bowes (1986)
Sunday’s NCAA Championship women’s singles semifinals (time TBA)
No. 13 Nicole Gibbs (Stanford) vs. No. 31 Breaunna Addison (Texas)
No. 11 Mary Weatherholt (Nebraska) vs. No. 36 Alexa Guarachi (Alabama)
Texas freshman Breaunna Addison
On becoming the third Longhorn ever to reach the NCAA singles semifinals
It’s a blessing. I’m honored to be here and make it this far. I just want to take it one match at a time and try not to be satisfied with what I’ve accomplished so far and just keep going.
On recovering to win the second and third sets
I tried to stay focused and control what I could and try to be more aggressive with my feet. I wanted to move my feet and stay focused throughout each point. I was up 3-1 in the third set and got a little passive. I was not moving my feet, so I started to press a little. I really needed to change something up. I stayed really aggressive with my feet, started going for my shots, and it paid off. When I had to tough her out and scramble just to stay in the point, I was able to do it. I was rewarded in the end.
On her final service game that won the match
I had a couple of match points, and I was thinking about the first set when I couldn’t finish her off. I found myself pressing again and she was able to step in and capitalize. It was really hard to find that balance, especially in that situation. On some of the points, I just really needed to grind it out. She had a couple of (break point) opportunities, but I think the situation got to her, as well. I just had to remember that she was under the same pressure I was. I was confident and going for my shots and trying to put pressure on her, and it went in my favor the rest of the match.
On playing defending NCAA Champion Nicole Gibbs in the semifinals
She is a really great player. She is tough and won’t give away a lot of points. I just have to stay in my points, and when I get my opportunities to come into the net or go for my shots, I have to take them. I can’t really hold anything back. I need to stay aggressive and mentally tough.
Texas head coach Patty Fendick-McCain
On the challenge presented by UNC’s Gina Suarez-Malaguti
Gina is an incredible player. She is so athletic and plays the game so physically. She has great skill and is very deceptive, too. One minute, she’s hitting high spinners and working you to death, and then on the next point, she’s just banging the ball. Gina has so much diversity in her game, and that made it such an incredible challenge for Bree, not only physically but mentally, too, to stay focused and tough for that period of time. It was really something special to watch.
On the difference for Addison in the second and third sets
Bree made adjustments. Every point was another adjustment. I thought she really played the flow of the game well. She stepped up when she needed to, and she defended when she needed to. Bree really toughed out all the big points and came up with some good points.
In the third set, it was just a dogfight the whole way. It was anybody’s match. On the first two match points that Bree had, she did the right thing and went for it. She just missed by half an inch both times. On the third one, she just gave it everything she had and just laid into the ball. She had to save several break points to stay in the game and get to that third match point. It was a true testament to her mental toughness, that’s for sure.