Jan. 26, 2012
ATLANTA – The 13th-ranked Georgia Tech women’s tennis team (1-1) will be seeking its sixth consecutive trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships when it hosts the No. 27 South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0), the No. 43 William and Mary Tribe (0-1) and the No. 54 Georgia State Panthers (2-0) in a ITA Kick-Off Weekend event Friday and Saturday at the Bill Moore Tennis Center in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jackets have already faced four top-30 teams so far this year and expect to be pushed again this weekend.
“We got to see Georgia State compete down at the regional in the fall at Florida, and I was really impressed with some of their players,” head coach Bryan Shelton said. “We got to see their top girl play and she stretched [second-ranked] Chelsey Gullickson to a tough three-setter. They are going to be a tough team and present some good challenges for us. Obviously our goal is to advance through this weekend, and in order to do that we are going to have to win that first match against Georgia State.”
Tech owns a 20-4 all-time series record over the Panthers, but haven’t squared off with GSU since 2005. The Yellow Jackets have won the last eight meetings in the series.
The Yellow Jackets trail the all-time series with South Carolina 4-2, but have won the last two meetings in 2002 and 2003 with the Gamecocks by a combined score of 12-2.
William and Mary owns a 4-0 mark against Tech, including a 4-3 win in 2007 when the Jackets went on to win the national championship.
“If we get through the first one, then those two teams are very strong as well,” Shelton said. “I think South Carolina has three girls ranked inside the top 50 in the nation, so I know they are a very talented group. William and Mary has had a couple of girls transfer in there that have strengthened their roster considerably. They gave them added pop on the top of their line-up, and some good doubles players to go along with it. I expect that to be hard-fought match between South Carolina and William and Mary. If we should advance past Georgia State, we should certainly have our work cut out for us.
“In these events you just have to focus in on one match, and we have to make sure we’re prepared to play our very best tennis against Georgia State on Friday. Then hopefully we will get a chance to watch the other two teams play so we will be well prepared for that match as well,” Shelton said.
The Yellow Jackets continue to be led by senior Jillian O’Neill at the top of the lineup and by O’Neill and sophomore Alex Aghelescu at No. 1 doubles.
“I think you gain a lot of confidence when your top position is doing well,” Shelton said. “We have had a history of some players do very well at the top, whether it was Kristi Miller, Amanda McDowell, Irina Falconi, or Jillian O’Neal now in singles. We have had some great doubles combinations as well, but it’s a dynamic duo that we have now in Jillian and Alex. Their chemistry is just something that sets them apart. They are potentially, if not the best, could be one of the best teams in the nation by the end of the season.”
South Carolina is led by 20th-ranked Anya Morgina, 33rd-ranked Jaklin Alawi and 80th-ranked Dijana Stojic in singles. Neither Georgia State nor William and Mary have a ranked singles player.
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.
— RamblinWreck.com —