May 14, 2009
ATLANTA – The ninth-seed Georgia Tech women’s tennis team (18-7) will return to action Friday when it faces No. 8-seeded California (19-4) in the round of 16 at the 2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships. The match is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. local) at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas.
TECH IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT:
Georgia Tech enters the NCAA Tournament for the 10th straight year under head coach Bryan Shelton. The Yellow Jackets hosted the first and second rounds of the tournament for the fifth straight season. The Jackets are 19-9 in the NCAA Tournament all-time, winning the 2007 NCAA Championships and have reached the sweet 16 in five straight seasons.
All-session tickets for all 12 days of the championship (May 14-25) are on sale now via the Texas A&M ticket office. Please call (888) 992-4443 or visit www.12manfoundation.com to order. All-session ticket prices are as follows: $103 for Stadium Club seating; $78 for adult general admission; and $35 for youth general admission. Individual day ticket prices are as follows: $12 for Stadium Club seating; $10 for adult general admission; and $4 for youth/students. Each individual day ticket is good for admission to all of the designated day’s matches. Special rates for groups of 10 or more are available via the Texas A&M ticket office.
SCOUTING EIGHTH-SEEDED CALIFORNIA:
California is making its third straight appearance in the NCAA Round of 16. The Golden Bears are 19-4 on the season. They are led by No. 11 Jana Juricova, who was 14-4 during the dual-match season. Cal defeated Long Island and Texas to reach the Sweet 16.
The Yellow Jackets are 1-1 against California, losing 5-2 to then No. 2 Cal at the 2009 ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
NCAA INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS:
The Yellow Jackets will be represented by four members in the 2009 NCAA Individual Championships. Senior Christy Striplin, junior Amanda McDowell and freshman Irina Falconi were each selected to the singles draw. In doubles, Falconi will pair with McDowell, while Striplin will play with sophomore Noelle Hickey.
Striplin and Falconi are making their first appearance in the singles draw, while McDowell will try and repeat as the singles champion. Hickey was selected as the No. 1 alternate for the singles draw and may be added at a later date.
As the only senior on this season’s roster, Christy Striplin has brought a lot of leadership and experience to this year’s team.
Striplin has registered 116 career wins, which is good for second all-time in Georgia Tech history. The Birmingham, Ala., native has also recorded at least 25 singles wins in all four seasons at Tech.
This year, Striplin is 29-12 overall in singles and has posted a 16-7 record during the dual-match season.
Striplin has also won 68 doubles matches in her time at Tech, which ranks eighth all-time. She has reached 25 wins in doubles for the second straight season. Striplin has won her doubles matches at a .680 (68-32) clip, which ranks second all-time in Tech history.
FINDING HER WAY:
Amanda McDowell, now a junior, is no stranger to big matches after winning the 2008 NCAA singles title.
This year, she has had a rocky start to the dual-match season, losing eight of her first nine matches. Head Coach Bryan Shelton decided to move McDowell down to the No. 2 position in the lineup and she had responded by winning 12 of her final 13 matches during the regular season.
In just her third season on the Flats, McDowell already sits in third-place all-time in the Tech record books with 108 singles wins.
She was named the ACC Women’s Tennis Player of the Week on March 17.
Bryan Shelton has assembled an exciting team this season but it is a very young team. His 2009 roster only lists two upperclassmen.
The team’s lineup in every dual-match this season has featured four underclassmen, including freshman Irina Falconi, who has played at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions.
FALCONI MAKING AN IMPACT:
In just her first season on the Flats, Irina Falconi is 18-9 against nationally-ranked opponents, including a win over No. 1 Maria Mosolova of Northwestern. Playing in the No. 1 singles position; she leads the team with a 30-10 overall record and is 16-8 during the dual-match portion of the schedule.
The freshman from Jupiter, Fla., was named the ACC Women’s Player of the Week on Feb. 23 and March 31.
Falconi, who ranks No. 12 in the nation, has been an important in helping the Jackets remain amongst the nation’s top-10 teams.
Also a good doubles player, she teamed with Amanda McDowell to win the All-American Doubles Title, the program’s second individual national title in the last year.
HICKEY STEPPING UP:
Sophomore Noelle Hickey may be having the best season of all the Yellow Jackets. The Hackensack, N.J. native has registered a 27-12 singles mark as well as a 26-14 doubles record.
In singles, Hickey has an 11-5 mark playing at either No. 2 or 3 during the dual-match season and went 9-2 during regular season conference play for the Jackets.
In doubles, Hickey and teammate Christy Striplin are playing at the top spot in the lineup and are ranked 30th in the nation.
KRUPINA SOLID WHEN IT COUNTS:
Last season, Sasha Krupina did not play at singles for Georgia Tech during the dual-match season. As a sophomore, Krupina has stepped into the lineup and has not only recorded a 12-10 record during the dual-match season, she was 6-4 against conference opponents in the regular season.
Krupina’s wins have also come at big times, with six of her wins clinching victories for the Yellow Jackets this season, including its big win over #4 Notre Dame.
In doubles, Krupina has recently been paired with fellow freshmen Irina Falconi and the two have registered a 11-4 mark and were 7-3 against conference foes. The duo is playing mostly at No. 2 doubles and is 10-2 in that position.
BLAU MAKING AN IMPACT:
Lynn Blau, who had only played a little doubles over Tech’s first nine dual matches, stepped into the lineup against Miami and Florida State and won both of the matches in three sets. Those were her first singles matches since Jan. 16 at a preseason tournament. Blau was 5-0 against conference opponents during the regular season and 6-4 overall during the dual-match season.
The freshman has also teamed with Amanda McDowell in doubles and the duo has gone 10-5 since being paired together. The twosome is playing at No. 3 doubles and helped the team overcome its early troubles in doubles during the dual-match season.
NGO STRONG AT NO. 6:
Viet Ha “Christina” Ngo has been a nice addition to the Yellow Jackets lineup this season. Ngo is 13-5 and 12-4 from the No. 6 spot in the lineup during the dual-match season for the Jackets. The fiery freshman’s win against No. 13 Fresno State clinched the match for the Yellow Jackets. She also brought the match with No. 3 UCLA even at 3-3 before Christy Striplin went to clinch the upset victory.
SUCCESS STARTS AT THE TOP:
The Yellow Jackets head coach Bryan Shelton has led Tech to the NCAA Tournament in all 10 seasons that he has led the Tech women’s tennis program. His team has hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season. The all-time winning coach (179-75, .705) has one NCAA Championship, two ITA National Team Indoor titles and three ACC Championships under his belt. Under Shelton, the Jackets have only finished under .500 once and have topped the 15-win total six times during his tenure.
YELLOW JACKETS IN THE RANKINGS:
Georgia Tech has four players ranked in the latest Campbell’s ITA Singles Rankings. Irina Falconi (12th), Amanda McDowell (25th), Christy Striplin (45th) and Noelle Hickey (61st) all are listed.
In doubles, McDowell and Falconi are ranked 11th in the nation, while Striplin and Hickey earned a ranking of 30th in the nation.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE:
If this was basketball, we would be talking about strength of schedule and Georgia Tech may have the nation’s No. 1 ranking in that category. Georgia Tech has already faced eight of the nation’s top 10 teams (Tech is ranked eighth) and 14 of the teams ranked in the top 25.
WINS OVER TOP-10 OPPONENTS:
The Yellow Jackets have recorded three wins over top-10 opponents. Tech defeated No. 3 UCLA at the 2009 ITA National Indoor Championships. The Jackets then knocked off No. 6 Miami, 5-2, at home for its first ACC win of the season. The most recent win was a 4-3 decision over No. 4 Notre Dame.