March 29, 2012
ATLANTA – The No. 24 ranked Georgia Tech women’s tennis team (9-7, 3-2 ACC) returns to its home courts after a five-match road trip to face the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels at 2:30 Friday (14-4, 4-0 ACC) and No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (15-2, 4-0 ACC) at noon Sunday at the Bill Moore Tennis Center. Both matches are free and open to the public.
Tech went 4-1 on its spring break trip and is coming off consecutive 5-2 wins over Maryland and Boston College.
“We’re so happy to be home,” head coach Bryan Shelton said. “When we flew back from Boston after a 10-day road trip, I think the mood was `it’s just great to be back at Georgia Tech’. I know for me personally, it was just great to be back and see my family and kids. I think for our team, they really enjoyed their spring break, but they were looking forward to getting back, seeing friends and getting to relax for a couple days before we really set our sights on this upcoming weekend.”
While the Yellow Jackets are back on their home courts, the competition does not get any easier as the regular season heads into its final weeks. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils are currently tied for second in the ACC standings. The Jackets and Heels faced each other at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 12 at the University of Virginia, a match which Carolina won 4-2.
“It’s one of those things, because they are travel partners, we play them on the same weekend every single year,” Shelton said. “Both of those programs have a history of being near the top of our league and consequently two of the top teams in the nation. This year is no different. Both coaches do a great job with their team, and a great job of recruiting great student-athletes. We’re looking forward to the challenge.
“We know we were just a couple points short from winning that match,” Shelton said of the Feb. 12 match. “There was a lot of tension in that match, it was great tennis. We played indoors at UVa, a neutral site, and we were just a couple points short of winning. Those losses are tough to swallow sometimes, but the great thing about sports is that you get other opportunities. We look at tomorrow as a great opportunity. We know their team very well as they know us. I think we’ll be able to establish great game plans in both doubles and singles, and I think our girls are ready to play.”
Shelton knows how important this weekend’s matches are in preparing for the ACC Championships, April 19-22, at the Cary Tennis Park in Cary, N.C.
“We’re at the point of the season where we’re kind of hitting our stride, we know what we’re doing well, what we need to avoid, and how to position ourselves out on the court to be successful. That’s what it’s going to come down to tomorrow, executing, staying disciplined and composed and doing the work. At this time of the year, when you’re playing great teams, it comes down to who executes and competes the best. We’ve had some great matches in the past and I know we’ll have another one tomorrow.”
Sunday’s match against Duke will also be the Yellow Jackets annual “Ace for the Cure” match in an effort to raise both awareness and money for breast cancer. Fans who give a $5 donation will get a pink t-shirt. Pink hats and visors will be available for purchase, along with free pink shakers. Georgia Tech will also be collecting donations based on how many games the Yellow Jackets win against the Blue Devils, starting at 25 cents per game won.
“We are so fortunate to be in the position we’re in,” Shelton said. “I’m thankful for my health, and the health of my team and my staff. This match gives us an opportunity to reflect and think about how fortunate we are. To be able to contribute and give back to others who are dealing with some really difficult situations is important. Personally, it’s a great thing to be a part of this, and to be able to contribute in a small way.”
This year all donations collected will go to the Amy Hosier Foundation, a former Yellow Jacket softball student-athlete who, at the age of 28, is battling breast cancer. More information on Amy can be found at www.amysangels21.com.
“This year the pink match is certainly special because of the fact that it helps a member of the Georgia Tech family,” Shelton said. “I think one of the things that we find when we go through adversity here at Georgia Tech is that we are a family. When we go through difficult times, we gather closer together and support one another. I think that’s what family is all about. You’re there in good times, but you’re also there in bad times and through the tough times. We’ve certainly faced our share of adversity and to be able to help one of the members of our family, that means a lot.”
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.
— RamblinWreck.com —