No. 16 Women's Tennis Rallies For 5-2 Win Over No. 9 Northwestern
Junior Elizabeth Kilborn clinches match with 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win on court two
Feb. 25, 2012
Evanston, Ill. - The 16th-ranked Georgia Tech women's tennis team pulled off an impressive rally Friday night at the Combe Tennis Center to defeat the ninth-ranked Northwestern Wildcats, 5-2, on the Wildcats' home courts in Evanston, Ill.
The match provided all the excitement and drama of the heavyweight bout head coach Bryan Shelton expected heading into the match.
"It was a battle," Shelton said. "We didn't play our very best in doubles, but I was really happy to see us comeback. It was the first time this year we lost the doubles point and were able to come back to win the match. We talked about our singles play, talked about being tougher in third sets, talked about executing under pressure and I think we did all those things well tonight. I was happy with how well we battled back and kept our composure out on the court, and kept our energy and intensity up. One of the best things was that we got better as the matches went on."
Northwestern earned the first edge in doubles play when the Wilidcats' number three team of Belinda Niu and Kate Turvy topped the Yellow Jacket pair of Viet Ha Ngo and Muriel Wacker, 8-4. Georgia Tech leveled the match when Elizabeth Kilborn drilled an ace right down the middle to give her and teammate Lynn Blau an 8-5 win over Northwestern's Brittany Wowchuk and Veronica Corning.
The doubles point would come down to a top-10 battle between the Wildcats' sixth-ranked side of Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton against Tech's ninth-ranked team of Jillian O'Neill and Alex Anghelescu. The match provided the expected excitement from two top teams.
O'Neill and Anghelescu got an early break to tie the match at 3-3. After both sides traded the next two games, Anghelescu hit a solid two-hand backhand cross-court for a winner to tie the match at 5-5. The Wildcats were able to hold off the Jackets down the stretch and claimed an 8-6 win to give NU the early team lead, 1-0, heading into singles play.
Northwestern extended its lead to 2-0 when Corning downed Tech's Blau 6-2, 6-2 on court four. Freshman Jasmine Minor cruised to a 6-1 first set win over the Wildcats' Linda Abu Mushrefova, but had to rally in the second set for a 6-4 win to make the team score 2-1.
Anghelescu fell behind early in her match 3-2, but ripped off three straight games and won the first set 6-3. The Johns Creek, Ga., native tied the team score 2-2 with a 6-3 second set win over the Cats' Hamilton on court six.
"I think it was big to get the scored tied again," Shelton said. "Alex did a great job of hanging in there. We were down 2-0, but she looked up and down the court and saw there were some opportunities still out there. We've been in that position a number of times this season. We were in that position at national indoors, against Georgia, and we weren't able to come through. But tonight we were able to come through in those matches and I was happy to see us win every single third set tonight."
Northwestern's Kate Turvy, ranked No. 11 nationally, couldn't have played much better in a 6-1 first set win over O'Neill, ranked No. 47. However, O'Neill opened the second set fast and found her groove en route to winning the next two sets, 6-3, 6-1, to give the Yellow Jackets their first lead of the day.
Kilborn, ranked No. 91, epitomized the Yellow Jacket team effort with a comeback win of her own. After dropping a tough 6-4 first set, she rallied for a 7-5 second set win to force a decisive third set. When Brittany Wowchuk's forehand found the net, Kiliborn had finished off a 6-3 third set win and clinched the Georgia Tech victory.
After falling behind 3-0 in the first set, Ngo fought back to take a 5-4 lead. The lengthy first set continued to go back-and-forth. After falling behind 6-1 in the tiebreak, Ngo fought back to tie it before Niu claimed a 7-6(7) first set win. Ngo continued to fight and forced a third set with a 6-3 second set win and claimed the victory with a 10-6 third-set tiebreak win.
"I think we seemed to get stronger at the end," Shelton said. "I felt very confident when you saw our body language out on the court, just how positive we were in between points. I felt like our team was playing with a purpose out there on the court. I was so happy to see at the end of sets we were coming forward and executing at the net with our volleys, our overheads and making plays. I didn't feel like we were just trying to hang in there, but we were still playing with a purpose and being very productive in every single point."
The Yellow Jackets will now make the short trek to South Bend, Ind., to take on the No. 24 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a 9 a.m. contest Sunday morning at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
Fans are encouraged to follow Georgia Tech women's tennis on Twitter, @GT_WTEN, and like the Yellow Jackets on Facebook, GTWomensTennis, for an inside look at the program.
Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1)
Singles (Order of Finish: (4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3)
-- RamblinWreck.com --