Thanks to Brad Roby for providing vucommodores.com video of the match-winning point.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Freshman Alex Leatu won 11 consecutive games en route to a three-set victory in the No. 1 singles match to give the Vanderbilt women’s tennis team a 4-3 victory over Alabama in the 2011 SEC Tennis Championships. The Commodores advance to the semifinals of the conference tournament for the first time since 2008.
“It was a fantastic match today,” said head coach Geoff Macdonald. “I thought we competed well in doubles, but Alabama has great doubles teams. It was very much a team effort. Everyone did a great job through a four-plus hour match, with a weather delay. I’m immensely proud of this team and the things they have been able to accomplish.”
With the match tied at 3-3, Leatu held Alabama’s Mary Anne Macfarlane scoreless in the third set to pick up the victory in the No. 1 singles match. Leatu lost the first set in a tiebreaker, and was down 1-3 in the second set, but went on to win 11 consecutive games between the second and third sets to seal the victory for the Commodores.
Leatu is now 2-0 against Macfarlane after defeating her in the regular season match earlier this spring.
Alabama got off to an early lead after winning two of three doubles matches. On court three, Nelly Radeva and Leatu dropped an 8-1 decision to 86th-ranked Antonia Foehse and Macfarlane, before Chelsea Preeg and Lauren Mira evened the score with an 8-3 win on court two. Rachael Dillon and Jackie Wu got out to a 3-0 lead over 12th-ranked Alexa Guarchi and Courtney McLane, but couldn’t hold on, falling 8-4.
The Crimson Tide increased their lead to 2-0 after 70th-ranked Alexa Guarachi defeated Preeg, ranked 77th in the nation, 6-1, 6-2. Dillon got the Commodores within one when she posted a 6-4, 6-0 win over Merritt Emery on court six.
Keilly Ulery tied the match at 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Antonia Foehse in the No. 5 match. Alabama’s Alex Clay defeated Mira, 6-3, 6-2, on court four to bring the score to 3-2 in favor of the Crimson Tide.
Alabama, however, wouldn’t win another match as Wu and Leatu closed out the match with victories. Wu posted a straight-set victory over Courtney McLane on court three to set up Leatu to clinch the victory in the No. 1 match.
“Jackie, Keilly and Rachael really set the tone with good straight-set wins,” said Macdonald. “All three played very composed, aggressive and mentally tough matches.”
The Commodores will face Florida tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. in the first semifinal match. Live stats can be found here.