STARKVILLE, Miss. - The eighth-ranked women’s tennis team dropped a heartbreaking loss to No. 3 Georgia, 4-2, on Saturday in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tennis Championship at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. With the loss, the Crimson Tide now stands at 19-5 on the season, while the Bulldogs improve to 21-2 to advance to the finals.
Georgia pulled out the doubles point after winning matches on courts one and three. The Bulldogs’ Ayaka Okuno and Lilly Kimbell broke Alabama’s Emily Zabor and Natalia Maynetto to lead 5-3 and would go on to take the last three games, winning the match 8-3. The battle on court one saw more breaks than holds, but at 7-7, Georgia’s top-ranked duo of Kate Fuller and Silvia Garcia would collect their biggest break to go up 8-7 and then serve for the 9-7 victory over the Tide’s sixth-ranked team of Alexa Guarachi and Mary Anne Macfarlane.
The Bulldogs would take a 2-0 lead as sixth-ranked Lauren Herring won the first singles match of the afternoon, taking a 6-3, 6-2 win over the Tide’s 29th-ranked Macfarlane. From there, Alabama won two straight matches as 113th-ranked Maynetto topped Okuno, 6-4, 6-3, on court five, which was followed by another 6-4, 6-3 win, this time coming from No. 47 Guarachi against 13th-ranked Maho Kowase on court two. Georgia earned its third point of the match next as Fuller topped No. 111 Maya Jansen, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, from the fourth position. The Bulldogs had an opportunity to close out the match on court six, however Zabor came up big in the end of the second set tiebreaker, winning five straight games to take it 8-6. That match was halted with Zabor leading Georgia’s Mia King, 4-1, in the third set as 89th-ranked Garcia clinched the win for the Bulldogs, taking a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 decision over Antonia Foehse on court three.
Alabama now awaits the NCAA Tennis Championship Selection Show, which will air on Tuesday, April 30.
1. No. 1 Fuller/Garcia (UGA) def. No. 6 Guarachi/Macfarlane (UA) 9-7
2. No. 85 Foehse/Jansen (UA) vs. No. 62 Kowase/Herring (UGA) 7-5, unf.
3. Okuno/Kimbell (UGA) def. Zabor/Maynetto (UA) 8-3
Order of Finish: 3,1
1. No. 6 Lauren Herring (UGA) def. No. 29 Mary Anne Macfarlane (UGA) 6-3, 6-2
2. No. 47 Alexa Guarachi (UGA) def. No. 13 Maho Kowase (UGA) 6-4, 6-3
3. No. 89 Silvia Garcia (UGA) def. Antonia Foehse (UA) 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
4. Kate Fuller (UGA) def. No. 111 Maya Jansen (UA) 2-6, 6-1, 6-3
5. No. 113 Natalia Maynetto (UA) def. Ayaka Okuno (UGA) 6-4, 6-3
6. Emily Zabor (UGA) vs. Mia King (UA) 2-6, 7-6(6), 4-1, unf.
Order of Finish: 1,5,2,4,3*