TGW: Double Their Pleasure, Double the Fun

March 14, 2016

By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word

Georgia Tech did away with the notion of a bad omen Sunday afternoon, when the Yellow Jackets dropped the doubles point to Wake Forest and yet made something good of it to cap a fine weekend at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex.

Not long at all after that, junior Rasheeda McAdoo worked quickly to rout Anna Ulyashchenko 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 singles, even the women’s match at one each, and send the No. 34-ranked Jackets to a 5-2 win over the No. 22 Demon Deacons.

Winning is always nice, and but losing the doubles point and winning was in a way better. Tech (9-5, 4-1 ACC) hadn’t lost the doubles point and won a match all spring – until Sunday against Wake Forest (12-4, 2-3).

Sure, head coach Rodney Harmon would prefer the Jackets win the doubles point and all the singles matches, like Tech did Friday in a 7-0 win over No. 30 Syracuse. That’s not likely to always happen, though, and the next best thing is to rally as the Jackets did on a gray, windy day for their third straight ACC win.

“It was good to be able to lose the doubles point and come back and win the match,” Harmon said. “I think we’re a pretty good doubles team so I wish we played better in doubles. We were kind of wobbling left and right for a minute, and Rasheeda played extremely well and put the one up on the board for us.

“It was key for her to play the way she did. That was as clean as I’ve seen her play, and that was the best singles match she’s played this year. She played free and she hit the ball deep, and she was steady and attacked.”

McAdoo had company in the hot zone.

Senior Kendal Woodard and sophomore Alexis Prokopuik soon won in straight sets at No. 4 and No. 6 singles for a 3-1 lead.

Wake Forest edged back as Samantha Asch topped senior Natasha Prokhnevska at No. 6 to leave Tech’s top two singles players to decide the match.

Sophomore Johnnise Renaud clinched the team victory with quite a rally of her own. The nation’s 36th-ranked player was out of sorts early before adjusting to Wake junior Kimmie Guerin’s off-speed game. Once she figured everything out, Renaud rolled to a 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 win that left the No. 50 Guerin dazed.

Opponents have figured out that it’s generally a bad idea to try and trade shots with Renaud, and she’s learning to be patient as they spray the ball around.

“It was definitely out of whack,” she said after moving her dual tournament record to 10-2 and 4-0 in the ACC. “I guess they can’t play with me off the ground hitting straight up so they’re starting to chip or hit lobs to get me out of my strike zone. I have to accept that.”

The Jackets all gathered to watch Paige Hourigan finish the afternoon at No. 2.

The 80th-ranked sophomore from New Zealand won her fifth straight match, although you wouldn’t always know from watching her play. Hourigan wears frustration on her sleeve so demonstrably that at times, like when she drops a point, she gives the impression something’s wrong.

“It’s hard to take that out of somebody because that’s what drives them,” Harmon said of Hourigan’s reactions. “She holds herself accountable all the time, sometimes to too high a level. She expects perfection, but it’s better that than the flip side.

“I’m trying to get her to be nicer to herself so that the last thing before she receives or serves is a positive affirmation.”

Hourigan, who earlier teamed with Woodard to move to 8-2 at No. 1 doubles with a 6-3 win over Wake’s Guerin and Ulyashchenko, says she’s being kind to herself. She’s definitely doing something right. Hourigan and Woodard are 5-0 in ACC action, and she’s 4-1 at No. 2 singles.

“It probably looks like I don’t give myself credit. I’m telling thinking positive thoughts. I actually am giving myself credit,” she said. “I’ve had a good streak lately. At the start of the season, it wasn’t so well, but I feel like I’ve been able to stay more positive with myself.”

The Jackets will next play Friday at Florida State, and Harmon believes senior Megan Kurey and junior Alexa Anton-Ohlmeyer may soon return from injuries that have recently limited their availability.

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