April 13, 2009

Courtesy of Georgia Athletics

ATHENS -- The second-ranked Georgia women’s tennis team clinched the 2009 Southeastern Conference title with a 5-2 win over 23rd-ranked Kentucky Sunday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
                        
The Bulldogs (19-2) notched their eighth conference crown in school history, improving to 9-1 in the SEC this year. They finish the regular season at 13th-ranked Tennessee (15-4, 8-2 SEC) Saturday. The SEC champion is determined by conference winning percentage in the 11 league matches. With a victory over the Volunteers, Georgia would win the title outright and claim the top seed for the SEC Tournament.  Georgia now has won the SEC title in 1983, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2007 and 2009. The Bulldogs will enter the SEC Tournament as the two-time defending champions as well.

“We did a great job in the doubles and that has been one of the things we have focused on all year to step it up there,” said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace. “One of our goals was to win the SEC regular season, and we’re excited to have reached that. We’ve got a huge match with Tennessee left and then the SEC and NCAA Tournaments to get ready for too. My hat is off to the players. They stayed focused and have worked hard all season. I’m proud of them.”

Georgia started fast against the Wildcats, sweeping the doubles matches for a 1-0 lead. Then, at No. 1, freshman Chelsey Gullickson, who is ranked ninth nationally, breezed past Carolina Escamilla 6-0,6-0 to make it 2-0. She is 30-9 this season. Then, sophomore Cameron Ellis won her ninth straight match, dispatching Minnette Piennar 6-1,6-3 at No. 6. Ellis is 27-3 this year. It set the stage for senior Monika Dancevic at No. 4 as she was the next to finish and clinch the match.

Dancevic dispatched Lauren Meier 6-2,6-2 for a 4-0 advantage. She is 106-42 in her singles career.

“I was a little emotional before the match, and I’m hoping this wasn’t my last match on these courts because we could have NCAAs here,” said Dancevic who was honored before the match as part of Senior Day. “I was fired up to play well especially with my parents here. I wasn’t planning to clinch the match, but it’s always nice to do that.”

Freshman Nadja Gilchrist made it 5-0 with a win at No. 3. She beat Christine Johnston 6-3,6-1 to extend her winning streak to eight and improve to 30-8. Kentucky picked up its first point at No. 5. Freshman Caroline Lilley defeated Naoko Ueshima 6-2,6-3. It was the first loss for Ueshima since November as she entered Sunday on a 19-match winning streak.

The final match to finish was at No. 2, and they played a 10-point super tie breaker in lieu of a third set. Broderick gave the Wildcats their second point with a 4-6,7-6(5),1-0(10-8) victory over Yvette Hyndman.

In doubles, Georgia got wins from the Gullickson/Gilchrist tandem along with Dancevic/Hyndman and Ellis/Ueshima. The Dancevic/Hyndman clinched the point with their win at No. 2. The Bulldogs are 16-0 this season when it wins the doubles point.