Jan. 20, 2012
ATLANTA – After a successful opening weekend at the Michigan Invitational, the 13th-ranked Georgia Tech women’s tennis team returns to Atlanta to open the dual match portion of its spring season against the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs (1 p.m. Saturday) and the No. 68 Memphis Tigers (12 p.m. Sunday). Both matches will be held at the Bill Moore Tennis Center and are free and open to the public.
The Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs have split the last eight matches between the two schools. Fans who check in on Foursquare Saturday will receive a free gold “Beat Georgia” t-shirt. Georgia Tech will be recognizing men’s and women’s tennis alumni this weekend, and will be honoring the Yellow Jacket men’s team for its success last season as well as head coach Kenny Thorne, who earned National Coach of the Year in 2011.
The Bulldogs are 2-0 on the year after a 6-1 win over Kansas State and a 7-0 sweep of Troy in Athens last weekend. Georgia Tech will be playing its first dual of the season after opening the spring with a successful outing at the Michigan Invitational last weekend.
“We got exactly what we wanted last weekend,” head coach Bryan Shelton said. “We got quality matches. We were pushed in situations. We executed really well most of the time. Not perfectly, so we saw some things we could work on this week. This team is certainly a lot deeper than the teams we’ve had the last couple of years which gives us a little more flexibility leading into this weekend with what we can put out there on the court.”
The Yellow Jackets are led by senior Jillian O’Neill, ranked No. 45, who earned ACC Player of the Week after going 2-0 in singles with a win over No. 10 Denise Dy of Washington and 2-0 in doubles with sophomore Alex Anghelescu, including a win over Michigan’s No. 24 team of Emina Bektas and Brooke Bolender.
Senior Viet Ha Ngo is the only other Jacket single ranked, beginning the season at No. 106 and went 2-1 last weekend at Michigan. Tech’s doubles team of Caroline Lilley and Jasmine Minor are ranked No. 33 and went 1-1 last weekend.
The Bulldogs feature four players ranked in the top 60 and led by Chelsey Gullickson who is ranked No. 2. Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist are the second ranked doubles pair as well for UGA.
“I feel comfortable that all eight players can go out there and contribute and play well for us,” Shelton said. “That’s a great feeling as a coach, knowing that we have eight players that are ready to go. Playing Georgia is obviously a big match for us. They’re a great team, have a great program and are consistently up there at the top. This year is no different. When it’s all said and done this year, I expect them to be a top 10 team again. We’ve had some great matches with them in the past and I know Saturday is going to be a great match.”
After kicking off the season in a big way Saturday, the Yellow Jackets will have to come right back to work on Sunday, when they host the No. 68 Memphis Tigers. Memphis has three singles ranked, led by 51st-ranked Stefanie Mikesz, and the No. 41 doubles team of Alyssa Hibberd and Tiffany Welcher.
“I think Memphis is one of the teams that are on the rise,” Shelton said. “It’s not a team we can take lightly coming off the Georgia match. After Saturday’s match finishes, we’re going to quickly shift our attention to Memphis because they deserve our respect. I know [head coach] Lee Taylor Walker has done a great job of putting the program together over the past couple of years. They’re one of those teams that when you look at the end of the year, they’re going to have climbed further than any other team in the nation.”
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.
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