Coming back from three separate deficits, the No. 1-seeded Georgia women’s tennis team edged Vanderbilt, 4-3, in the NCAA Quarterfinals Friday evening at the USTA National Campus.
The No. 8-seed Commodores (19-8) took their final lead at 3-2 with all attention swinging to courts five and six – both in third sets. On court six was Georgia freshman Meg Kowalski, ranked No. 122 in ITA singles, up 3-0 against No. 117 Emily Smith. Meanwhile, Elena Christofi, a Georgia junior, just dropped a second-set tiebreaker to Carolyn Campana with the third set on the way.
Kowalski equaled it at 3-all, stepping up in the third set with a 6-1 for a final score of 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-1. At that point, Christofi had the slight 2-1 edge against the Commodore freshman. From there, the Bulldog used her at 5-10 frame to outlast her opponent, going up 3-2 and then 5-3, before finishing with the 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3 clinch.
The victory sends Georgia (27-1) to the NCAA Semifinals, which will be played no earlier than 7 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Bulldogs will face the winner of tonight’s other quarterfinal between No. 4 South Carolina and No. 5 Duke. The semifinals appearance is the first for Georgia since 2015 and the program’s 13th all time. Additionally, the season win total of 27 ties the school record.
“What an absolute battle out there, but I’m so proud of our team and how we fought,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “You got to give it to Vanderbilt too, they are a great team and they came out strong today. Our singles was absolutely outstanding. Katarina [Jokic] played great from start to finish. Vivian [Wolff] fought back after losing the first set and got it down in three. Meg [Kowalski] was so tough as she was battling heat, throwing up on the court multiple times, but never lost her composure, and just kept fighting to try to get a point for the Dawgs. And then it came down to Elena [Christofi] who is such a hard worker, and all of her work clearly paid off, as she was able to find a way to win in such a pressure-filled situation. Lastly, my coaching staff, Drake Bernstein and Mariana Gould, did a great job today.”
Doubles went to Vandy for the match’s first point, leaving the door for Georgia to muster up four singles victories to win a team match for the seventh time this season. To put Georgia further in a hole, the Commodores took four first sets albeit close with the last being Kowalski’s tiebreaker.
Sophomore Katarina Jokic evened the score at 1-all on court one as the No. 2-ranked Bulldog defeated No. 64 Georgia Drummy, 6-3, 6-2. Vanderbilt’s Fernanda Contreras, ranked No. 6, bested No. 19 Marta Gonzalez, 6-3, 6-2, to go back up by a point.
Next, sophomore Vivian Wolff stormed back in her match after dropping the first set to win 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 against No. 93 Amanda Meyer on court four. The win enhanced her win streak to 19 in a row and her record to 31-3. In doing so, she knotted it at 2-all.
Vanderbilt took its last point on court three with No. 18 Christina Rosca edging No. 69 Lourdes Carle, 7-5, 6-4. It was then that all the eyes went to the final two courts where Kowalski and Christofi finished it off for the Bulldogs.
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