Sophomore Ellen Perez scored perhaps the biggest win of the night for No. 2 Georgia (3-0) despite the fact the Bulldogs had already clinched the dual match against No. 20 Clemson (1-1) before her contest went final.
In the team win, Georgia took a 7-0 victory, blanking the Tigers on Saturday night at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Courts. The dominant victory came in the final match before the team heads north for the ITA Team Indoor Championship.
“Clemson is a good team,” said Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace. “They’re ranked No. 20 but I think they’ll end the year higher than that. The doubles was really close, but our players at the end really picked it up and played some great points, played aggressively and controlled play.”
For Perez, the Shellharbour, Australia native defeated top-ranked singles player Joana Eidukonyte 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 1-0 (10-3) in a super-tiebreaker abbreviated third set. It was Georgia’s first victory over a No. 1 opponent since Lauren Herring scored a win over Julie Elbaba of Virginia on Feb. 2 last year.
The top-court war did not come without its share of drama, as Perez dropped the first set 7-5 despite leading 5-3. She came back to win the second set after trailing six games to five and 3-0 in the tiebreak. Perez, ranked 12th nationally, then coasted through the super tiebreak en route to the win. Counting fall play, Perez has now beaten the top two players in the ITA rankings (Eidukonyte and No. 2 Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State).
“It was an amazing experience,” said Perez. “I was just happy to get the win for the team; we did an awesome job out there. The match was very topsy-turvy, there were lots of ups and downs, but the whole time I believed that I could win and I wanted to get that win.”
The Bulldogs won the doubles point, claiming victories on the first and second courts. The pair of Caroline Brinson and Silvia Garcia was first to finish, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and closing 6-3. Perez and Mariana Gould clinched the doubles point for Georgia, coming back from down 3-1 to claim their match by a 6-3 tally.
Garcia took the first singles match of the day for the Bulldogs, pushing the team’s lead to 2-0 with a strong 6-2, 6-2 victory. Shaffer followed suit with a 6-3, 6-2 upset victory over Navarro to give the Bulldogs a commanding 3-0 lead.
The match was clinched for the home squad by Brinson, who registered her second clincher of the year with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 performance on the No. 2 court, giving the Bulldogs a 4-0 edge over their ACC opponents.
Georgia closed out the 7-0 shutout with wins on the No. 5 and No. 6 courts by Gould and Laura Patterson. Patterson coasted through her match to a 6-0, 6-1 win, while Gould fought her way to a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
The team will next head to Madison, Wisconsin for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. A year ago, the Bulldogs were finalists of the annual tournament.