LOS ANGELES -- Mississippi dropped the doubles point against Texas Tech, but the Rebels rallied in singles, picking up wins at Nos. 6, 5, 1 and the clincher at 2 from junior Julia Jones to knock off the Lady Raiders 4-3 in the first round of the NCAA championships on Friday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
With the win, the Rebels (14-9) advance to the second round to face UCLA, a 4-0 winner against Sacramento State, on Saturday. Texas Tech ends its season at 17-9.
With the overall match tied at three, Jones extended her match to a third set against Tech’s Rashmi Teltumbde at No. 2 singles. Jones, ranked No. 97 in the nation and recently named to the All-SEC second team, lost a tight first set tiebreaker 7-6(7), but she battled back to win the second set 6-4. After Teltumbde won the opening game of the final set, Jones kicked into gear, winning four consecutive games to take a 4-1 lead. She held serve twice more to win it 6-2 as the team celebrated. Jones improved to 27-10 overall and 5-2 at No. 2 singles.
“Every singles match was close,” head coach Mark Beyers said. “This was two really good teams battling out there. We knew it would be close, that it would be 4-3 one way or the other. We are happy that it’s us on the right side of the outcome.
“With the match on the line, Julia played great in the third set. She didn’t get nervous and she got off to a great start. She has the experience from having been there before. It was a great team effort in singles. We have to play better doubles, be more assertive and play more aggressive [Saturday]. To come through in a match like this in the first round of the NCAAs is a great feeling.”
Texas Tech started the match off in command of the doubles, taking an 8-3 win at No. 1, followed by an 8-4 victory at No. 3.
The Lady Raiders built some leads on most of the singles courts early, but the Rebels’ experience of playing in the rugged SEC helped them battle back. Junior Iris Verboven evened the match with her 6-3, 6-3 win against Beatriz Santos at No. 6 to improve to 9-3 at that spot.
Moments later, junior Erin Stephens won her 11th consecutive match, defeating Lady Raider Samantha Adams 6-2, 7-5 on court No. 5 to give the Rebels a 2-1 lead.
Senior Caroline Rohde-Moe came back to take her first set against Tech’s Kenna Kilgo 7-5 and then won another close set, 6-4 in the second, to increase the Rebels’ lead to 3-1.
Texas Tech won a close match at No. 4 singles with Nikki Sanders topping sophomore Mai El Kamash 6-4, 7-6(4) to get within one. The Lady Raiders tied it when Lynn Kiro beat freshman Zalina Khairudinova 7-5, 6-2 at No. 3 singles, just as Jones had won the second set.