Junior Marta Gonzalez clinched a 4-2 victory for the top-seeded University of Georgia women’s tennis team, ousting No. 16 Michigan Saturday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships.
Playing on court two, Gonzalez won both sets on deuce points to take the 7-5, 7-5 victory over No. 80-ranked Giulia Pairone. Next, the Bulldogs travel to the final site in Orlando, Fla., on May 17 to take on either Texas A&M or Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals. It will be the second quarterfinals appearance in two years for Georgia.
“First thing I’d really like to say is I think Michigan has a great team and great program,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “They’re well-coached, and it was a heck of a match. The second thing I’ll say is our fans were amazing today. The atmosphere here was just incredible. I’m super proud of our team and what they’ve accomplished this year in getting us to this Elite Eight, and the fact that this was the last match of the year here at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, that’s always emotional and sad for us because it’s such a great place to play.”
For the first time in the past 14 matches, Georgia dropped the doubles point in a close affair. The Bulldogs’ duo of Elena Christofi and Vivian Wolff snagged a 6-3 victory over the Wolverines’ pair of Anca Craciun and Pairone on court two, while Michigan’s No. 37-ranked pair of Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor defeated the No. 28-ranked team of Katarina Jokic and Lourdes Carle, 6-3, on court one. The doubles point came down to court three, where Georgia’s team of Meg Kowalski and Gonzalez trailed Michigan’s tandem of Alyvia Jones and Lera Patiuk, 3-4. The Wolverines won the last two games, including the deuce point to take the 1-0 advantage into the singles action.
The Bulldogs raced back in singles to pull out a 4-2 victory over the Wolverines, marking the fifth time this season that Georgia won the match after losing the doubles point. Georgia started singles play with five first-set wins, two of which came on deuce points.
Georgia kept up its momentum heading into the second sets. Christofi put Georgia on the board after taking down her Michigan opponent Alyvia Jones on court five by a score of 6-0, 6-3. The victory for Christofi upped her season record to 19-5 and her win-streak to 11.
Carle, ranked No. 69 in ITA singles, then grabbed the Bulldogs’ first lead of the day with a 6-3, 6-3 win at the No. 3 spot. The freshman Bulldog defeated No. 50-ranked Brienne Minor, a senior Wolverine who won the 2017 NCAA Singles Championship, to give Georgia a 2-1 advantage. Carle grabbed her seventh win against a ranked opponent and is now 23-6.
Court one featured a face-off between the champion and runner-up of the 2018 ITA Fall Nationals Championship. Jokic, who defeated Fahey in the fall, fought hard after dropping the first set, 6-0, on deuce point. Despite a second-set comeback, Jokic was unable to overcome the deficit, dropping the second set, also on deuce point. With Fahey’s 6-0, 6-4 win, Michigan tied it at 2-all.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s No. 122-ranked Kowalski headed into a second-set tiebreaker, in which the Bulldog defeated Michigan’s Craciun to give Georgia the 3-2 advantage. The Bulldog, named SEC Freshman of the Year, improves to 23-1 on the season and is 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament.
Up 5-4 on court two, No. 19 Gonzalez dropped a game, allowing No. 80 Pairone to tie it at 5-all. Gonzalez then broke the Wolverine’s next two serves, including the deuce point to take the 7-5, 7-5 win and secure a 4-2 victory for the Bulldogs. With the match clinched, No. 78 Wolff’s match at court four was unfinished as it entered the third set.