No. 4 Georgia Tech Wins ITA National Team Indoor Title
Tech defeated No. 3 Northwestern, 4-2
Feb. 10, 2008
MADISON, Wisc. - Yellow Jacket sophomore Kirsten Flower battled back from a four-game deficit in her second set to pull off a 6-4, 7-6 (5) upset victory over No. 99 Lauren Lui to clinch No. 4 Georgia Tech's 4-2 victory over No. 3 Northwestern in the ITA National Team Indoor championship match Sunday afternoon. The ITA National Team Indoor title is the Yellow Jackets' second in as many years, after Tech knocked off Notre Dame for the title in 2007.
"Kirsten really steadied her nerves as the day went along," said head coach Bryan Shelton. "It started in doubles coming down to their match after Noelle (Hickey) and Christy (Striplin) came out firing. Kirsten and Kristi (Miller) had a 6-4 lead in their set and were up 40-0, but ended up losing. The two of them then battled back to break, going up 7-5, which was huge for us.
"Last weekend we were up in all three doubles matches and ended up losing two of the three, so this week we focused on finishing it off. Getting the doubles point really gave us the momentum that we needed going into singles."
The Yellow Jackets have lost just once in their last 28 matches, falling 6-1 to Northwestern last weekend in Atlanta. Tech has played its best tennis, however, in title matches, having never lost on six occasions (three ACC Championships, two ITA National Team Indoor Championship, one NCAA Title).
After earning a 6-4 win in her first set, Flower fell behind 5-1 in the second set, but rallied to win six-straight games before pulling out a 7-5 tiebreaker win to clinch the match for the Yellow Jackets. With the win, Georgia Tech improved to 6-1 on the season while the loss was the Wildcats' first in 2008, as they fell to 6-1.
"Kirsten had to fight her nerves and really be brave on the court," Shelton said. "She stepped up and got the job done. She fell behind 5-1, but would not give up. She clawed and fought her way back to 6-5 before pulling out the win in the tiebreaker."
Striplin and Hickey quickly dispatched Northwestern's Maria Mosolova and Nazlie Ghazal, 8-2, at No. 3 singles to give the Jackets the early upper hand, but the Wildcats' Alexis Conill and Georgia Rose managed an 8-3 win at the No. 2 position to set up the top doubles teams to determine the winner of the important first point of the match. After the two tandems played even through the first 11 games of the match, Tech's top duo of Miller and Flower polished off an 8-5 win over Northwestern's seventh-ranked Lauren Lui and Samantha Murray by winning the last two games to give the Jackets a 1-0 lead in the match.
Thirty-eighth ranked Striplin pushed the score to 2-0 when she stopped Northwestern's Ghazal, listed at No. 68 in the latest singles rankings, 6-3, 6-2 at No. 4 singles, but the Wildcats' ninth-ranked Rose, playing in a different position than she had in the previous three matches of the tournament, subdued Tech's seventh-ranked Miller, 6-3, 6-1, at the top singles spot to give her team its first point of the afternoon.
"We were extremely solid in the middle of our singles lineup, and we really showed that it's truly a team sport because some of our team didn't play well yesterday but today played their very best," Shelton said. "Whitney and Christy got us united early in singles, which really gave us a huge boost.
Suzie Matzenauer evened the match, 2-2, by posting a 6-2, 6-4 victory against the Jackets' 56th-ranked Hickey at the bottom of the singles lineup, but 22nd-ranked McCray held off Northwestern's Murray, ranked No. 20 in the singles polls, with a 6-1, 7-5 win at the No. 3 position to give the Jackets the 3-2 lead.
Georgia Tech's third-ranked McDowell meanwhile battled back after dropping her first set to No. 2 Mosolova, 4-6, to win the second set, 6-2, but did not finish after Flower clinched the match.
"The first thing that Kirsten said after she won was `Way to hang in there, Amanda!,'" Shelton added. "It was like Tarryn Rudman hanging around late in our match against UCLA at NCAA's. Amanda really took the pressure off by hanging in there and staying tough today."
The Yellow Jackets will have the week off before hosting Kentucky at the Bill Moore Tennis Center next Sunday at 12 noon. Live stats for that match will be available at Ramblinwreck.com.
Tennis Match Results Georgia Tech vs Northwestern Feb 10, 2008 at Madison, Wisc.