ATLANTA, Ga. It was a grueling match that lasted nearlyfour and a half hours, but in the end it was worth it. The No. 45 University of Pennsylvania women’s tennis team defeated No. 30 Tennessee (12-13) 4-2 on Friday at Georgia Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Quakers (13-5) won the all-important doubles point and took three singles matches. One by default, one in straight sets and the clincher from behind in three sets.
Penn was very impressive in doubles. At the No. 3 spot, Caroline Stanislawski and Michelle Mitchell shutout Samantha Orlin and Hayley Prendergast 8-0. Penn held the advantage late at the Nos. 1 and 2 positions. Julia Koulbitskaya and Yulia Rivelis’s victory over the No. 52 ranked team of Melissa Schaub and Ghizela Schutte clinched the point for the Quakers.
Penn picked up a point at No. 6 singles by default to take a 2-0 lead. Koulbitskaya quickly made it 3-0 with a straight set win over Jones, 6-1, 6-3. The Lady Vols picked up their first point at No. 3. Griffith downed Mitchell 6-2, 2-6, 6-1. The Quakers still held a 3-1 advantage and just needed to win one of its three remaining matches to clinch the upset.
The No. 1 position provided one of the best matches all day. Rivelis and Schaub split the first two sets. Schaub took the first 6-1, but Rivelis bounced back in the second 6-4. Schaub won a tight third set 7-6.
Then the attention shifted to the Nos. 4 and 5 matches. At No. 5, Stanislawski lost the first set to Orlin 4-6. The senior bounced back to take the second 7-6. However in the third set, Orlin looked to have the match in hand up 4-3. Stanislawski battled back and took the final three points to win the third set 6-4.
“This was a very dramatic match,” said head coach Michael Dowd. “Four of the five matches went three sets and every match was a battle. Every player on both teams competed hard.”
Penn will take on No. 6 Georgia Tech in the second round on Saturday at noon. The Yellow Jackets defeated Southeastern Louisiana 4-0 on Friday.
“Since that was a tough and long match, we’ll enjoy it for a little tonight, then we have to put our game faces on for Georgia Tech,” said Dowd.
The Quakers will look to advance to its first Sweet 16 in program history with a win tomorrow.
Click here for live stats of Saturday's match.
Note: Harvard, the only other Ivy League team in the NCAA Tournament, lost to Purdue, 4-2 on Friday.
No. 45 Penn 4, No. 30 Tennessee 2
1. Julia Koulbitskaya/Yulia Rivelis (P) def. Melissa Schaub/Ghizela Schutte (T) 8-4
2. Raluca Ciochina/Alexis Plukas (P) def. Blakeley Griffith/Victoria Jones (T) 7-3 DNF
3. Michelle Mitchell/Caroline Stanislawski (P) def. Samantha Orlin/Hayley Prendergast (T) 8-0
1. Melissa Schaub (T) def. Yulia Rivelis (P) 6-1, 4-6, 7-6
2. Julia Koulbitskaya (P) def. Victoria Jones (T) 6-1, 6-3
3. Blakeley Griffith (T) def. Michelle Mitchell (P) 6-2, 2-6, 6-1
4. Raluca Ciochina (P) vs. Ghizela Schutte (T) 7-6, 4-6, 3-4 DNF
5. Caroline Stanislawski (P) def. Samantha Orlin (T) 4-6, 7-6, 6-4
6. Penn won by default