May 19, 2011
YELLOW JACKETS ADVANCE TO SWEET 16
The Georgia Tech women’s tennis team will be making its sixth overall appearance at the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships Round of 16, all of which have come in the last seven years.
This season is the 12th NCAA Championships appearance in school history, all of which have come in the last 12 years since Tech alum Bryan Shelton took over the reins of the program. Including the wins in the first and second rounds of this year’s tournament, the Yellow Jackets hold a 22-10 all-time record in the NCAA Championships.
Of the 11 previous times the Yellow Jackets have played in the NCAA Championships, they have advanced to the round of 16 five times, the round of eight twice and won the national championship in 2007.
TWICE AS NICE
The Georgia Tech men’s and women’s tennis teams both hosted NCAA Championships First and Second Round regionals for the first time and both advanced to the Round of 16 in the same season for the first time. The men’s team is making its second trip to the final 16 and the women have punched their ticket to a sixth final 16. The Yellow Jackets were one of nine teams to host both men’s and women’s first and second round matches.
Tech’s head coaches in men’s (Kenny Thorne) and women’s (Bryan Shelton) have been close friends and competitors since their days in junior tennis circles. Both enrolled at Georgia Tech and played together from 1985-88, leading the Yellow Jackets to their first NCAA Championship team berth as seniors in 1988. They rank second and third with 112 and 101 singles victories, respectively, in Tech history, and were named All-Americans as seniors. Each won an Atlantic Coast Conference singles championship, and each made the All-ACC team all four years.
Following their careers in professional tennis, Thorne became Tech’s head men’s coach in 1998, with Shelton taking the helm of the women’s team one year later.
Georgia Tech is one of nine teams in the Round of 16 to have both of its men’s and women’s teams competing at Stanford. Three of the nine – Georgia Tech, Virginia and Duke – hail from the ACC. Thirty-four schools began the men’s and women’s tennis championship with both teams participating.
Junior Jillian O’Neill earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Singles Championship which will be held May 25-30 at Stanford following the team championship. This marks the 10th straight year a Yellow Jacket has played in the NCAA Singles Championship.
O’Neill earned All-ACC honors this season and owns a 23-14 singles record and a 9-4 mark playing from the top spot in the Tech lineup, and has climbed to 32nd in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings.
In two of her last three singles matches, O’Neill has beaten two top 20 opponents. She downed North Carolina’s 11th-ranked Zoe De Bruycker, 6-2, 6-4, and beat Arizona State’s 19th-ranked Kelcy McKenna, 6-3, 6-3.
Classmate Christina Ngo was named the fifth alternate and could also compete at Stanford. Ngo is 22-15 in 2010-11 and is currently ranked 65th.
When the Jackets arrive in Northern California for the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships, they will find a bevy of familiar faces. Of the final 16 teams, six come from the Atlantic Coast Conference. In addition to Tech and its third round opponent Duke, also making the trip west will be Clemson, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia.
FAMILIAR FOES: PART DEUX
The Yellow Jackets only faced their third round opponent, Duke, once this year. The then fourth ranked Blue Devils claimed a 5-2 win over then 12th ranked Georgia Tech on April 10 in Durham, N.C.
Tech’s No. 1 doubles team of Caroline Lilley and Jillian O’Neill earned an 8-4 win, but the Jackets lost the doubles point. Lilley won a three-set battle over Duke’s No. 77 Ellah Nze, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 on court two and Lynn Blau topped the Blue Devils’ 59th-ranked Elizabeth Plotkin, 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-3) from the fourth spot of the lineup.
The Blue Devils own the all-time series edge, 32-3, with all three wins coming in the Shelton era.
CLIMBING CAREER CHART Senior Sasha Krupina is climbing the Georgia Tech career doubles wins chart. Heading into the NCAA Championships Round of 16, she has 76 doubles wins which is seventh all-time on The Flats. Kelly Anderson is sixth with 81.