Feb. 23, 2012
ATLANTA – The No. 16 Georgia Tech women’s tennis team (4-4) will travel north for two tough weekend matches against a pair of ranked foes. The Yellow Jackets will try to knock off the ninth-ranked Northwestern Wildcats (5-3) in a 5 p.m. match Friday in Evanston, Ill., and Tech will face the 23rd-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-3) in a 9 a.m. match Sunday morning in South Bend, Ind.
Northwestern owns a 5-3 all-time record against the Yellow Jackets, but Tech won last year’s meeting 5-2 in Atlanta. Georgia Tech is 5-1 all-time against the Irish, including a 5-2 win last year at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.
This will be the Jackets’ first two matches since the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va.
“After the three matches in Charlottesville, we identified we needed to spend a little more time on our singles play,” head coach Bryan Shelton said. “I felt like throughout the season so far, the early stages of it, we’ve executed pretty well on the doubles court. Even though we haven’t won every doubles point, our doubles play has been a head of our singles play. We need to catch up a little bit and solidify some things in our singles games.
“We’ve been putting ourselves under a little more stress to not only help us execute better when we’re on the move but to increase our endurance and stamina when we’re out there on the court,” Shelton added. “I noticed we’ve lost a few three-set matches already this season in singles play. We certainly want to reverse that trend and find ourselves getting stronger in the third set. Scott McDonald continues to do a great job and we recognize that maybe we just need to push a little harder on the tennis court in our practice session to make sure we’re ready to go come match day.”
The Jackets’ doubles teams have posted a 24-9 overall record and three Tech teams were featured in the latest ITA tennis rankings, led by the duo of Jillian O’Neill and Alex Anghelescu who are 8-2 and ranked No. 9. Caroline Lilley and Jasmine Minor are 3-1 together and are ranked No. 48, while Lynn Blau and Elizabeth Kilborn have posted an 8-2 mark and are ranked No. 54.
Northwestern’s only ranked doubles team is the pair of Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton who are ranked No. 6. The Irish side of Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews are ranked No. 3 in the latest poll.
“I think our doubles teams are deservingly ranked,” Shelton said. “We have three teams that have played really well so far this season. We can’t neglect that, we have to continue to nurture that. There are only so many hours in the day, so we have to be really efficient with how we schedule practices and individual work. Other teams are going to continue to improve and we have to improve faster than they do.”
Georgia Tech is led in singles by O’Neill who heads into the weekend ranked No. 47 with a 5-5 overall record. Lilley is 4-1 on the year and ranked No. 67, while Kilborn broke into the rankings at No. 91 with a 7-4 record and three wins over nationally ranked opponents.
Northwestern is led by Kate Turvy at No. 11 and Brittany Wowchuk at No. 45. Mathews is the top-slotted Irish at No. 39 and Jennifer Kellner comes in at No. 124 for Notre Dame.
“I think it is going to take a team effort to be successful,” Shelton said. “It’s not one player stepping up, it’s all the players stepping up. We need all three doubles teams to come out ready to go. I think we can win doubles points against Northwestern and Notre Dame if we execute. It’s going to come down to being sure we make the right choices on the court, positioning ourselves in the right place and playing with conviction at the key times. We’ve also got to answer the call under pressure. If we do that in doubles, that’ll give us an opportunity to win those doubles points, which will set us up well. In singles, it’ll come down to being tough in the third sets, being tough late in matches when we’re closing out sets, whether its first, second or third set. I think if we execute there and finish strong in every single match we play, I think we can go there and have success against two quality programs.”
Fans are encouraged to follow Georgia Tech women’s tennis on Twitter, @GT_WTEN, and like the Yellow Jackets on Facebook, GTWomensTennis, for an inside look at the program.
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