Behind Gumulya's singles win, Clemson takes down Vanderbilt to advance
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson overcame a Vanderbilt lead and a bout of rain in defeating the Commodores 4-2 in the NCAA championships at the Hoke Sloan Tennis Center. Sophomore Beatrice Gumulya overcame a first-set loss to bounce back for a 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 win.
With the win, Clemson advances to the Round of 16, held at the Kahn Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill., and hosted by the University of Illinois.
“This is a wonderful team,” head coach Nancy Harris said. “They’re young, they’re exciting, and they’re very talented. The team just has great chemistry. I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to head to Champaign, Ill., and play in the Round of 16. The more rounds we go through as a young team, the better we will be in the future.”
This is the 11th NCAA Round of 16 berth for the Tigers all-time and the eighth in the last ten seasons. The Tigers improved to 15-1 under Harris in NCAA matches held at home and this might have been the most impressive, advancing without a junior or senior on the roster.
Clemson overcame the loss of the doubles point, improving to 7-7 this season when doing so.
Gumulya and Yana Koroleva won their match against the doubles team of Lauren Mira and Courtney Colton. They dropped the first three games, but rattled off eight consecutive for the 8-3 win. However, the Tigers could not claim another decision to claim the point.
The match was halted for nearly two hours when the rain came down midway through the first singles set, after Vanderbilt had claimed the doubles point.
The rain effectively halted Vanderbilt momentum and gave the Tigers the second “halftime” they needed to recuperate and flip matches.
Out of the break, sophomore Romy Koelzer fell in straight-sets on court four, which gave the Commodores a 2-0 lead. That’s when things changed for Clemson.
The first Clemson point came from freshman Liz Jeukeng on court two. She dispatched Courtney Colton 6-2, 6-2 for her 18th win of the season. Jeukeng got back into the decision after having her match halted at 6-1, 5-2 on Saturday after the match was clinched.
Yana Koroleva finished next, as she was undeterred by Lauren Mira’s change of pace and slice shots. Koroleva downed Mira 6-2, 6-3, en route to her 24th win of the season. Koroleva earned an invitation to the NCAA singles championships, along with Gumulya and Jeukeng.
The turning point of the match came on adjacent courts, three and five, where Gumulya and Ani Miao each dropped first sets before the rain came. Gutsy efforts from each forced third sets, and the fiery Miao won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 against Ashleigh Antal to give Clemson a 3-2 lead.
That left Gumulya and Friday's clincher, Tristen Dewar, on the court. Dewar won the first set on court six, but could not close out in the second set, despite serving up 5-4. She was early in the third set, while Gumulya and Georgina Sellyn also battled the heat on three.
Sellyn won the first set 6-1 and was up a break at 6-5, but Gumulya broke back to force a tiebreaker, which she won 8-6 to force a third set.
Gumulya went ahead 4-1 in the third set. Sellyn came back to make it 4-2, before Gumulya broke again to go up 5-2. After taking the first set, Gumulya went down in pain, and had trouble walking. The trainer, Monica Lopes, was called to her side as she went down at the baseline. The coaching staff and Lopes urged Gumulya to continue to hydrate as she stretched.
Out of the timeout, Gumulya was physically unable to serve, even trying to go underhand at one point. Sellyn broke, cutting the margin to 5-3. But Gumulya did not quit and rattled off the next four points in breaking Sellyn before she earned the win. The victory improved Gumulya to 4-0 in her NCAA career and was her 10th consecutive win this season.
She is now 25-4 this year, and has won 36 of her last 40 matches.