March 14, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fresh off its biggest win of the season against No. 12 Tennessee, the Vanderbilt women’s tennis team put forth a valiant effort in hopes of knocking off 14th-ranked Georgia on Sunday, before falling 5-2 at the Currey Tennis Center.
The Commodores (7-4, 2-2 SEC) came within a couple of games in singles of pulling off what would have been an incredible comeback after trailing 3-0 in the match.
“I want to commend Georgia for earning the hard-fought win in a match that I believed was an SEC war,” head coach Geoff Macdonald said. “They were able to pull out some close matches that could have gone either way to earn the win.”
Vanderbilt fell behind 1-0 after Georgia took two of three from Vanderbilt in doubles. VU put themselves in good position to win the doubles point when Chelsea Preeg and Keilly Ulery took down Georgia’s team of Lara Fakhoury and Naoko Ueshima at No. 3, 8-2. On court No. 1 VU’s Rachael Dillon and Heather Steinbauer battled back from a 4-0 deficit against the nation’s seventh-ranked pair of Chelsey Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist to tie things up at 4-4, before the Bulldog tandem won four of the final five games to take the match, 8-5. Georgia would eventually clinch the doubles point when Yvette Hyndman and Cameron Ellis held off VU’s Catherine Newman and Erica Robertson, 8-6.
UGA then took a 3-0 lead, when they registered wins at the No. 5 and No. 2 singles positions.
With Georgia within one point of clinching the match, VU’s Keilly Ulery got the ‘Dores on the scoreboard with a straight set win over Naoko Ueshima, 6-3, 7-5 on court four.
Fifteen minutes later, Hannah Blatt got the ‘Dores within a point of tying the match, when she notched a straight set win over Fakhoury at No. 6 for her sixth win in seven tries. The Nashville, Tenn., native breezed through the first set, winning six-love but than found herself down 3-0 in the second before regaining her stroke and winning six straight games to earn the 6-0, 6-3 victory. With the win, Blatt improved to a perfect 3-0 against opponents from the SEC.
With Georgia leading 3-2, the final two matches on courts one and three were deadlocked after two sets, therefore forced to a third set.
On court No. 1, VU’s Newman was in a battle with UGA’s top player Chelsey Gullickson while Steinbauer and Hyndman were in a marathon match of their own.
After Newman took the first set against Gullickson, 6-4, the Georgia All-American squeezed out the second set 7-6, including 7-4 in the tiebreaker to set up a third and final set. Gullickson than put Newman and the Commodores on the heels of defeat when she jumped out to 5-2 lead in the third set. However, just like Newman has done throughout her four-year career, she charged back into the match and took the next three games against the nation’s sixth-ranked player to tie things up at five-all in the third. Newman broke Gullickson’s serve twice in final set to put herself into position of beating two straight top-10 opponents in a span of three days before Gullickson clinched the match for UGA by winning the final two game. The prize-fight showdown with Newman and Gullickson, took 35 games in a span of three hours to decide the winner.
Much like the Newman-Gullickson match, Steinbauer and Hyndman needed three sets to decide the winner on court three. After Steinbauer took the opening set 7-6, Hyndman and Steinbauer traded games back and forth for the majority of the final two sets, before Hyndman outlasted Steinbauer, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, to make the final score 5-2 in favor of Georgia.
Despite the loss, the Vanderbilt coaching staff is pleased with the team’s progress over the last couple of weeks.
“I think our team has made tremendous strides of improvement over the last few weeks and this weekend was a great example of it,” Macdonald said. “I thought today’s match with Georgia was an epic battle between two teams that were playing great tennis. We defeated a good Tennessee team on Friday and had a great opportunity against Georgia this afternoon.”
Vanderbilt will return to the hard courts Mar. 19, when they play host to No. 3 Notre Dame at the Currey Tennis Center. The match with the Fighting Irish will start at 2:30 p.m. CT on Friday.
No. 14 Georgia 5, No. 25 Vanderbilt 2
March 14, 2010
1. No. 7 Gullickson / Gilchrist (UGA) def. Dillon / Steinbauer (VU) 8-5
2. Ellis / Hyndman (UGA) def. Robertson / Newman (VU) 8-6
3. Preeg / Ulery (VU) def. Fakhoury / Ueshima (UGA) 8-2
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2
1. No. 6 Chelsey Gullickson (UGA) def. No. 67 Catherine Newman (VU) 4-6, 7-6(7-4), 7-5
2. No. 23 Nadja Gilchrist (UGA) def. No. 85 Chelsea Preeg 6-0, 7-6(2)
3. Yvette Hyndman (UGA) def. No. 107 Heather Steinbauer (VU) 6-7, 6-4, 7-5
4. Keilly Ulery (VU) def. Naoko Ueshima (UGA) 6-3, 7-5
5. Cameron Ellis (UGA) def. Rachael Dillon (VU) 6-3, 6-2
6. Hannah Blatt (VU) def. Lara Fakhoury (UGA) 6-0, 6-4
Order of Finish: 5, 2, 4, 6, 1*, 3