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A Familiar Court with a Different View

Feb. 3, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

With four new players who’ve never seen Georgia Tech-Georgia from the inside, and just two returning players who’ve squared off against the Bulldogs in a dual format, this is a good time to step out for different view of this afternoon’s women’s tennis match in Athens between No. 13 Tech and No. 15 Georgia.

Assistant coach Alison Silverio has been there and done that.

She played for the Jackets from 2003-`07. She was front and center in `07, when the Yellow Jackets beat UCLA to win the NCAA team title – in Athens, no less. She also was front and center when Tech ended an 0-15 skid against Georgia in her sophomore season, in Athens. Silverio was NCAA Tournament MVP, and part of three straight ACC championship teams.

“From the moment you walk on campus as a freshman student-athlete, it’s just ingrained in your mind to beat Georgia,” Silvreio said. “Georgia is always going to have an extra exclamation point beside it. We want to beat them and show that we’re the best college in town. I do think it’s different.

“I can remember [the ’05 win at Georgia] like yesterday. The atmosphere was great. It was very special for me because I clinched that.”

It should come as no surprise that a present-day Jacket takes a more measured view – at least publicly. That’s what athletes and coaches usually do, right?

“To be honest, for us it’s always the same, be it Georgia or other teams,” said No. 1 singles ace Viet Ha Ngo, who might not have been completely honest at first. “Of course Georgia is a special name to our school sister we have a long history of rivalry, and we want to do better.”

Tech is 3-0 in dual meets this winter/spring as coach Bryan Shelton has worked new blood into his program.

Freshmen Rocio Alberca Lopez of Spain and Muriel Wacker of Switzerland are fresh faces on The Flats along with Kentucky transfer Caroline Lilley and former junior college national champion Jillian O’Neil of Montreal.

The Jackets have beaten No. 9 Northwestern, No. 30 Iowa and No. 28 South Florida, all at home.

Tech and Georgia saw each a couple times in the fall, once in a tournament in Athens and once in a tournament at Tech. Neither was a dual match. As Viet Ha Ngo said, “Being away, you never know what to expect in terms of fans. At the end of the day, what matters is how we play.”

That’s true, but in case anyone is interested, Silverio can give the Jackets an idea of what to expect as they try to beat Georgia for the fifth time in the past eight dual meetings, including a 5-2 win in Atlanta last season. Remember that NCAA title in Athens? Silverio does.

“The [Georgia] men’s team actually played the championship before us, and as we were getting ready to warm up, the Georgia fans in the stands were packed. The female players were there, too, and when we took the court we didn’t get a very welcoming response. It made it that much greater. It just kind of gave us that extra fire. It was definitely a special night.”

Methinks it may be a tad hostile this afternoon in Athens. Send pictures to stingdaily@gmail.com.

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