March 24, 2011
ATLANTA – Prior to Thursday’s women’s tennis match with Notre Dame, Georgia Tech head coach Bryan Shelton talked about the need to string multiple wins together and build some momentum as the Yellow Jackets move towards postseason play.
The Yellow Jackets took a step forward with a 5-2 win over Notre Dame Thursday afternoon at the Bill Moore Tennis Center to close out the non-conference schedule. The win improved Tech to 9-5 this season and marked consecutive wins for the first time since the first three meets of the year. The loss drops Notre Dame to 9-8 on the season.
“I think we were competing hard against Notre Dame, but we were also competing hard against the wind. The elements outside today were tough. It required every bit of our concentration. I thought Notre Dame handled the conditions well and fought against it too. It was just a hard fought match. They have a tradition of great tennis teams. We competed really well though and I’m proud of the team.”
Knowing how important it is to grab the early momentum in doubles play, the Yellow Jackets landed the first blow with an 8-3 win on court three from Lynn Blau and Caroline Lilley. Viet Ha Ngo and Jillian O’Neill made a valiant comeback after falling behind 6-3, to tie the match 6-6 on court one, but fell 8-6 and leaving the doubles point to be decided on court two.
The decisive doubles match on court two was fitting for two squads ranked only two spots apart. Sasha Krupina and Elizabeth Kilborn jumped out to an early 4-2 lead, but Notre Dame’s tandem of Chrissie McGaffigan and Kristen Rafael battled back within 5-4.
Court two would see ties at 6-6, 7-7 and 8-8, before the Yellow Jacket pair would claim the match and the doubles point for Tech with a 7-4 tiebreak victory.
“Notre Dame is scrappy and they compete very hard, they value putting the ball on the court and consistency. We knew we were going to be in for a battle today,” Shelton said. “I thought our team did a good job, starting in the doubles, of just hanging in there. We were down match point at number two doubles and from that point we played our best tennis. It was kind of fun to see us face adversity and deal with it the way we did. That’s two matches in a row that Sasha and Elizabeth have faced adversity at the end of doubles and come through for us to help us win that doubles point. Lynn and Caroline did a great job of being the catalyst. That’s two matches in a row they’ve gotten a lead, been able to secure it and close the deal. I think that helped out a ton today.”
O’Neill, facing a stiff challenge in No. 3 Kristy Frilling, came out firing at the top spot of the lineup and downed the Irish No. 1 6-0, 6-3, to put Tech up 2-0. Notre Dame earned its first point of the afternoon with a 7-6, 6-3 win on court six by Julie Sabacinski over Blau.
“Jillian continues to improve and I think she’s gotten much better as her fitness has improved,” Shelton said. “She’s starting to win longer points, the longer games, and the tougher matches. I think she’s gaining confidence as she has gotten physically tougher. Hard work pays off. Hard work with talent, and she has a lot of talent, is going to pay off for her in the future.”
Junior Caroline Lilley claimed a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, win over Notre Dame’s Kristen Rafael on court three to put the Jackets up 3-1. Quickly following her classmate, junior Viet Ha Ngo finished off a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) win over the Irish’s 38th-ranked Shannon Matthews to clinch the win for Tech.
Sophomore Elizabeth Kilborn assured the Yellow Jackets would win by more than a point after claiming a hard-fought 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over Notre Dame’s Chrissie McGaffigan on court five. The final match of the afternoon went to the Irish as Jenny Kellner defeated Tech’s Sasha Krupina, 4-6, 7-6, 10-8, on court four.
The Yellow Jackets return to ACC play with a pair of matches this weekend in the Old North State. Tech will face No. 32 NC State at noon in Raleigh, N.C., with the match at the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center on Saturday. On Sunday, the Jackets will make the short trek west on I-40 to face the No. 48 Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a noon contest at Leighton Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Fans can follow Tech tennis on Twitter, @GT_WTEN, for instant updates and live scoring will be available through RamblinWreck.com.
Notre Dame at Georgia Tech
March 24, 2011 in Atlanta, Ga.
#21 Georgia Tech 5, #19 Notre Dame 2
1. #49 Jillian O’Neill (GT) def. #3 Kristy Frilling (ND), 6-0, 6-3
2. #82 Viet Ha Ngo (GT) def. #38 Shannon Matthews (ND), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
3. #83 Caroline Lilley (GT) def. Kristen Rafael (ND), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
4. #107 Jenny Kellner (ND) def. Sasha Krupina (GT), 4-6, 7-6, 10-8
5. Elizabeth Kilborn (GT) def. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND), 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
6. Julie Sabacinski (ND) def. Lynn Blau (GT), 7-6, 6-3
1. #33 Kristy Frilling/Shannon Matthews (ND) def. Viet Ha Ngo/Jillian O’Neill (GT), 8-6
2. Sasha Krupina/Elizabeth Kilborn (GT) def. Chrissie McGaffigan/Kristen Rafael (ND), 9-8 (7-4)
3. Lynn Blau/Caroline Lilley (GT) def. Jenny Kellner/Julie Sabacinski (ND), 8-3
Georgia Tech 8-5; National ranking #21
Notre Dame: 9-8; National ranking #19
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (1,6,3,2,5,6)
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