April 25, 2010
CARY, N.C. – Sophomore Irina Falconi pulled off a dramatic three-set victory to clinch the seventh-seeded Georgia Tech Women’s Tennis team’s 4-3 win over top-seeded and No. 1 nationally-ranked North Carolina in the finals of the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Sunday afternoon at the Cary (N.C.) Tennis Center.
The Yellow Jackets captured their fourth ACC Tournament title under head Bryan Shelton and first since 2007.
“What an incredible weekend,” Shelton said. “It is certainly one of the biggest highlights in our program’s history. It was just really special weekend to be able to see our players believe and execute the game plans. We fought through a lot of adversity this weekend physically but just remained so mentally tough.”
Falconi, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, split the first two sets with No. 22 Sanaz Marand before winning the match in the third set, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.
“That was one of the gutsiest performances that I have seen,” said Shelton about Falconi. “For her to be able to steady herself and get to the net on two of the biggest points of the match to clinch it for us was incredible for us. She received the MVP award and certainly has deserved, not only for this weekend’s performance, but her performance all season.”
The Yellow Jackets opened the day by taking two of three doubles matches to open up an early 1-0 lead over the Tar Heels. After Elizabeth Kilborn and Viet Ha Ngo fell on court three, the Jackets tandem of Hillary Davis and Lynn Blau picked up their teammates with an 8-6 victory over Sophie Grabinski and Jelena Durisic. With the point on the line, Tech’s No. 1 duo of Falconi and Sasha Krupina came through with an 8-5 win over Marand and Katrina Tsang.
“You have to give the whole team credit for establishing the doubles point early,” Shelton added. “Hillary and Lynn have struggled in numerous matches but to come through in the biggest match of the year was huge. The doubles victory gave us a huge lift in the match with all of their fans here.”
North Carolina pulled even with the Jackets when Jelena Durisic upended Krupina, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 3 singles. The Tar Heels Shinann Featherston followed with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Davis at the sixth position in the lineup to open a 2-1 advantage on Tech.
Kilborn evened the score a 2-2 with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Grabinski on court five but the Tar Heels would answer right back when No. 51 Tsang finished off Ngo, 6-2, 6-4 at No. 2 singles.
Down 3-2, the Jackets Lynn Blau came from behind to win a huge 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Gina Suarez-Malaguti on court four. Blau, who has been red hot as of late, captured her fifth straight match and has won nine of her last 10.
The match came down to Falconi, the nation’s top-ranked player, and she did not disappoint. Falconi caputured her school-record 26th dual-match victory of the season and has now won 20 straight matches to led Tech to the title.
“We could not have done this without everyone on the team contributing,” Shelton said. “This was truly a team effort this weekend. We got a lift from everyone on the team and it led us to this win.”
The Yellow Jackets have earned a spot in the 2010 NCAA Tournament field and will await their first round opponents. The first two rounds are scheduled for Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15 at campus sites.