WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – In another four-plus hour epic thriller, Georgia Tech women’s tennis battled back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat No. 14 UCLA in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals, 4-3. Freshman Ida Jarlskog clinched the victory just after midnight from the No. 4 position in a three-set battle as Tech worked through two rain delays and a move indoors to secure a semifinal spot for the first time since 2007.
DOUBLES ACTION: In a competitive doubles point, UCLA grabbed the early lead with victories from the two and three positions. UCLA’s Alaina Miller and Ena Shibahara wrapped up first, grabbing a 6-4 victory over Tech’s Johnnise Renaud and Nami Otsuka from the three position. Tech evened the playing field with a victory from the top seed as No. 1 Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones edged No. 7 Jada Hart and Terri Fleming, 6-4, leaving the doubles point to be decided on court two where UCLA held match point as court one finished.
On court two, Tech’s Ida Jarlskog and Victoria Flores trailed 4-2 as UCLA’s Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield closed out the match with a 6-2 victory to clinch the 1-0 lead for the Bruins.
SINGLES: UCLA carried the momentum into singles play and quickly gained an advantage on five courts. Just before 9 p.m., rain began to fall and play was suspended for the first time with every match but court four playing in the second set. When play resumed over an hour later, Renaud finished off her match from the No. 3 position, defeating Fleming in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, to even the match at 1-all.
Moments later, play was suspended for a second time and the match was eventually moved indoors tied at 1-1. Play resumed at 10:35 p.m. inside and UCLA quickly retook the lead, winning the next two matches to finish. No. 33 Hart picked up a straight set win on court two followed by No. 121 Miller sealing a victory from court six for a 3-1 UCLA lead.
Tech would need the final three matches playing to force a comeback and win the match. Hourigan got the rally going, securing another comeback victory. The senior dropped the first set to No. 9 Shibahara, 6-3, but forced a deciding third set winning in the second, 6-3. In the final set, Hourigan broke to go up 3-2 and held serve to take a 4-2 lead. UCLA followed with a hold, but Hourigan claimed the next two points to seal the match with a 6-3 third set win, setting up a 3-2 score.
With two courts still playing, Otsuka was battling Broomfield on court five, trying to seal a straight-set win in a second set tiebreak. Otsuka rallied in the first set after falling behind 4-0 to win the set, 7-5. Tied at 5-5 in the second set, Bloomfield grabbed a 6-5 edge, but Otsuka forced a tiebreak at 6-all. The sophomore rolled in the tiebreak, collecting the win, 7-2, tying the match at 3-3.
All eyes turned to court four where No. 125 Jarlskog was battling No. 67 Abi Altick. Jarlskog claimed the first set, 7-6 (6), but fell in the second, 6-0. Jarlskog opened the final set with a 3-1 lead and held serve to go up 4-1. Both Altick and Jarlskog held serve to setup a 5-3 final set with a chance for Jarlskog to serve out the match. The Jacket fell behind 0-40 in the final game, but rallied to win the next four points and clinch the match with a 6-3 third set win.
QUOTABLE: “It was tough. UCLA outplayed us in doubles and we were losing everywhere but one court in singles. The girls just kept fighting. Again, I said it yesterday, but it’s the same thing…we’ve played so many tough teams and had so many tough matches, that when you’ve done it so many times, you just keep trying and don’t give up. UCLA has such a great team and they came out firing. It was probably the toughest match we’ve played this entire year. It’s the NCAAs, so everybody is good. You just have to play your best every day.” – head coach Rodney Harmon
UP NEXT: No. 4 Georgia Tech will face top-seeded Vanderbilt on Monday at noon in the semifinals for a spot in the National Championship match.
No. 4 GEORGIA TECH vs No. 14 UCLA RESULTS
Match Score: Georgia Tech 4, UCLA 3
1. No. 1 Paige Hourigan/Kenya Jones (GT) def. No. 7 Jada Hart/Terri Fleming (UCLA) 6-4
2. No. 64 Gabby Andrews/Ayan Broomfield (UCLA) def. No. 48 Ida Jarlskog/Victoria Flores (GT) 6-2
3. Alaina Miller/Ena Shibahara (UCLA) def. Johnnise Renaud/Nami Otsuka (GT) 6-4
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
1. 1. No. 14 Paige Hourigan (GT) def. No. 9 Ena Shibahara (UCLA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
2. No. 33 Jada Hart (UCLA) def. No. 60 Kenya Jones (GT) 6-1, 6-3
3. Johnnise Renaud (GT) def. Terri Fleming (UCLA) 6-1, 6-3
4. No. 125 Ida Jarlskog (GT) def. No. 67 Abi Altick (UCLA) 7-6 (6), 0-6, 6-3
5. Nami Otsuka (GT) def. Ayan Broomfield (UCLA) 7-5, 7-6 (2)
6. No. 121 Alaina Miller (UCLA) def. Victoria Flores (GT) 6-3, 6-4
Order of finish: 3, 2, 6, 1, 5, 4
Records: Georgia Tech (25-5); UCLA (23-6)