ATLANTA – Sixteenth-ranked Georgia Tech had to wait longer than expected to begin its NCAA Tournament first-round match against Jacksonville State on Saturday afternoon at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.
The Yellow Jackets (14-10) did not wait nearly as long in moving into the second round with a decisive 4-0 win against the Gamecocks (14-10).
Tech and JSU had to wait for the first round marathon match between the Ole Miss Rebels and Arizona State Sun Devils to finish before beginning play in their NCAA opener. The Sun Devils came away victorious 4-3 and will face the Jackets on Sunday.
“I thought the girls did a great job today,” head coach Bryan Shelton said. “Jacksonville State came to play early and was firing in doubles, and I thought our team did a great job of responding to that. At that point, I thought we showed a lot of composure and grit, and dug in. We were able to raise our level and maintain that consistent pressure through the rest of doubles and singles. I’m really pleased the hard work we’ve put in over the last two weeks, I saw some of it come out today, and hopefully we can continue that tomorrow.”
This season, doubles play has been the key to the Yellow Jackets success and Georgia Tech began the day with a bang in team action. The Jackets’ No. 3 tandem of Sasha Krupina and Viet Ha Ngo gave Tech the early edge with an 8-2 win against Jacksonville State’s Juliana Renesto and Rafaela Wenzel.
Lynn Blau and Elizabeth Kilborn soon followed with an 8-2 win of their own against the Gamecocks’ pair of Raisa Guasti and Ralphaela Lima on court two to give the Yellow Jackets a 1-0 lead going into singles play.
This year when Tech has won the doubles point, the Yellow Jackets are 14-0.
Tech’s No. 1 team and 18th-ranked pair of Caroline Lilley and Jillian O’Neill held a 7-4 lead against JSU’s Vivane Marani and Martina Dessbesell on court one when the doubles point was clinched.
“I think it’s important, winning the doubles point,” Shelton said. “It’s important for us as a team. You’re either going to win the first point or lose the first point. It helps establish some momentum. In sports, momentum is huge. Today we did a good job of taking that doubles point, and once we took it, we put an exclamation point on the day with our singles play.”
The Jackets began doubles play a little slow but picked up the pace to close out the first point of the day. Tech was able to sustain that momentum as it began singles play.
Georgia Tech won the first set on all six courts and Blau tallied the first individual win of the afternoon for the Yellow Jackets with a 6-2, 6-1 win against Jacksonville State’s Ralphaela Lima on court four.
Krupina followed with a 6-0, 6-3 win on court five to put Tech within one point of the win as she downed JSU’s Juliana Renesto. O’Neill clinched the Tech victory and sent the Jackets into the second round as she quickly added a 6-3, 6-0 win against the Gamecocks’ Vivane Marani on court one.