UGA women’s tennis team junior Ellen Perez cruised past Kimmy Guerin of Wake Forest 6-3, 6-3 in the Round of 64 of the NCAA Singles Championships Wednesday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex to advance to the Round of 32.
“I thought she played a pretty good match today,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “She seemed better than the player from start to finish. She kept balls in play and was able to get through it. Tomorrow, obviously, we have singles and doubles so we will try to just do a lot of what we did today.”
Perez, ranked 12th in ITA singles, played open and limited her mistakes to advance past No. 60 Guerin. Players held their serve through the first seven games, before Perez earned the first break to go up, 5-3. She started the final game with an ace en route to taking the first set.
In the second set, Perez jumped on top early, 2-0, after breaking the Demon Deacon’s serve in the opening game, then holding. Up 5-3, Perez was receiving Guerin’s serve and fell behind 0-30. Perez tied it after Guerin’s next returns landed in the net, then went ahead 40-30 on Guerin’s wide shot. The Wake Forest senior double-faulted to conclude the match and send Perez to the Round of 32.
“The mindset was to come in, have fun and enjoy the crowd,” Perez said. “I love playing at home. I was trying to use my forehand more today than I have been this tournament. I was trying to feed her out a little bit, but really I was just having fun and enjoying having my teammates by my side. I’m going out there and playing one match at a time.”
Elena Christofi and Kennedy Shaffer fell in their first round matches Wednesday morning. Arizona’s two-time All-Pac 12 First Team recipient Lauren Maker moved past Christofi, 7-5, 7-6 (8). Shaffer was bested 7-5, 6-3 by 18th-ranked Sara Daavettila of North Carolina.
“They both really had great years,” Wallace said. “It was rough today; they had chances in both sets, but unfortunately were unable to get through it. They are great players and their future is really bright. I’m looking forward to continuing to see them grow.”
In the next round, Perez will face No. 30 Stacey Fung of Washington. Fung defeated No. 57 Carol Zi Yang in the first round 7-6 (4), 6-2.
The doubles championships commence Thursday as Georgia has two teams in the field. Senior Caroline Brinson and Perez will face Ohio State’s duo of Francesca Di Lorenzo and Miho Kowase. The Christofi and Shaffer pair will battle fourth-seeded Jessie Aney and Hayley Carter of North Carolina. Scheduling for singles and doubles matches will be announced late Wednesday.
“It is going to be exciting,” Wallace said. “It is another great opportunity for them to get out there and try to find some ways to make a nice run in this tournament.”