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No. 16 Yellow Jackets Drop Hard Fought 4-3 Match To No. 3 Duke

May 20, 2011

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STANFORD, CALIF. – The 16th-ranked Georgia Tech women’s tennis team (15-11) fought hard, but came up just short in a 4-3 loss to the No. 3 ranked Duke Blue Devils (25-4) in an NCAA Women’s Tennis Tournament Third Round match at the Taube Family Tennis Center on the Stanford University campus on Friday.

“I thought we did a great job in doubles today,” head coach Bryan Shelton said. “We woke up early with a 9 a.m. start and our girls came out and executed beautifully in the doubles. I was happy to see all three doubles matches, not only get the lead, but maintain it throughout. It was a great start for us. It was exactly how we drew it up. You have to execute and our girls did a great job today executing. I feel good about how much we improved in that area over the last few weeks.”

The Yellow Jackets got off to a very hot start in doubles play, building the momentum that Shelton has talked about being so important to gain.

Tech’s No. 1 team of Caroline Lilley and Jillian O’Neill, ranked 18th, beat Duke’s 52nd ranked team of Rachel Kahan and Ellah Nze, 8-3. The Jackets’ No. 2 team of Lynn Blau and Elizabeth Kilborn played very well and finished off Duke’s 55th-ranked team of Nadine Fahoum and Hanna Mar, 8-3, to clinch the doubles point and send the Jackets into singles play with a 1-0 lead.

Today was the first time this season the Yellow Jackets have lost the match when winning the doubles point. Tech was 15-0 when entering singles play with a 1-0 lead.

The 32nd-ranked O’Neill had Duke’s 39th-ranked Fahoum running all over the court and made quick work of the Blue Devils’ top line with a 6-2, 6-3 win on court one to put the Yellow Jackets up 2-0.

“Jillian continues to keep getting better,” Shelton said. “She’s a talent and I think she’s one of the best talents we have in the collegiate game. She’s starting to realize that. Every single week that goes by, she seems to be improving little by little. I continue to expect great things from her. I expect her to win out there on the court. She’s really starting to believe in herself and I know her teammates believe in her as well. To be able to step up in that leading role at the No. 1 spot in singles and doubles, to be able to perform and win, those are huge wins for our team and a big confidence booster for all of us.”

Duke earned its first point of the day with a 6-2, 6-2 win by the 89th-ranked Kahan on court five over Tech’s Krupina. After battling through a long first set, the 98th-ranked Lilley dropped a tough first set, 7-5, to Duke’s 106th-ranked Nze on court two, and Nze claimed the second set 6-0 to even the team score at 2-2.

After winning the first set, Kilborn dropped the next two to fall 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to Duke’s No. 83 Mary Clayton, to give the Blue Devils a 3-2 edge, their first of the day.

Despite losing her first set 6-2, Blau rallied for a big time come-from-behind win on court four, downing Duke’s 72nd-ranked Plotkin 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“Lynn is a battler. She’s five-foot nothing, but wears her heart on her sleeve and she goes out there and gives her very best,” Shelton said. “Gameday, she was able to bring it. Not only in singles but doubles as well. I’m really proud of her, she’s a junior, and she’s really come into her own. It seems like every season she plays her best at the end of the season at the critical moments. And today was a critical moment. Down 3-2 in the match, for her to have the resolve to finish her match off aggressively. She didn’t wait for her opponent to give it to her, she went out there and took it; she made it happen.”

With the overall match tied, the winner would be decided on court three between Georgia Tech’s 65th-ranked Viet Ha Ngo and Duke’s 20th-ranked Reka Zsilinszka. Ngo won the first set 6-4, but Zsilinszka would claim the second set 6-0. The third set was a battle with both student-athletes fighting hard in long points. Zsilinska would earn the victory and send the Blue Devils into the quarterfinals with a 6-3 third set win.

O’Neill has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Singles Championship which will begin on Wednesday, May 25, at Stanford. Ngo was slated as the fifth alternate and will wait to see if she is included in the field of 64.

Fans can follow Tech tennis on Twitter, @GT_WTEN, for instant updates.

Match Results
Georgia Tech vs. Duke
May 20, 2011 in Stanford, Calif.
#3 Duke 4, #16 Georgia Tech 3

Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 2)
1) No. 18 Lilley/O’Neill (GT) d. No. 52 Kahan/Nze (DUKE) 8-3
2) Blau/Kilborn (GT) d. No. 55 Fahoum/Mar (DUKE) 8-3
3) No. 90 Clayton/Gorny (DUKE) vs. Ha Ngo/Krupina (GT) aban.

Singles (Order of Finish: 1, 5, 2, 6, 4, 3)
1) No. 32 Jillian O’Neill (GT) d. No. 39 Nadine Fahoum (DUKE) 6-2, 6-3
2) No. 106 Ellah Nze (DUKE) d. No. 98 Caroline Lilley (GT) 7-5, 6-0
3) No. 20 Reka Zsilinszka (DUKE) d. No. 65 Viet Ha Ngo (GT) 4-6, 6-0, 6-3
4) Lynn Blau (GT) d. No. 72 Elizabeth Plotkin (DUKE) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
5) No. 89 Rachel Kahan (DUKE) d. Sasha Krupina (GT) 6-2, 6-2
6) No. 83 Mary Clayton (DUKE) d. Elizabeth Kilborn (GT) 2-6, 6-3, 6-1

Match Notes:
Georgia Tech 15-11; National ranking #16
Duke 25-4; National ranking #3

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