OXFORD, Miss. - Seventh-ranked Georgia registered a 4-0 win over No. 28 South Carolina Friday to advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.
The Bulldogs (20-3) claimed the doubles point and then won three singles matches for the shutout over the Gamecocks (15-8). Up next, the Bulldogs face the winner of the Alabama-Arkansas quarterfinal contest. Georgia’s semifinal match will be Saturday at 11 a.m ET. The 11th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (16-3) is the No. 2 seed and won the Western Division with a 10-1 league mark while No. 36 Arkansas (12-12) is the No. 10 seed. Alabama edged Georgia 4-3 in Athens on April 6 while the Bulldogs blanked the Razorbacks 7-0 in Fayetteville on March 23.
On Friday, Georgia roared out to a strong start in the doubles, taking a big lead in all three matches. The No. 2 Bulldog team of Chelsey Gullickson and Alina Jerjomina finished first with an 8-4 win over Anya Morgina and Dominika Kanakova. Then, the Bulldogs clinched the point with a victory at No. 1 from Kate Fuller and Nadja Gilchrist. They upset the 37th-ranked duo of Dijana Stojic and Jaklin Alawi 8-2. In tournament play, matches are halted when the doubles point and overall match has been decided. Therefore, the No. 3 Bulldog duo of Maho Kowase and Lilly Kimbell did not get a chance to finish their match. They held a 7-2 advantage over Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova and missed a chance to extend their current winning streak which stands at 17.
In Georgia’s 6-1 win over South Carolina during the regular season, Georgia won the doubles and five of the six singles contests. On Friday, only two of the singles matchups were the same as the regular season – Gullickson versus Morgina at No. 1 and Gilchrist against Kanakova at No. 3. In the SEC Tournament meeting, the Bulldogs claimed the first set in all six singles matches. Georgia went up 2-0 after Kimbell blanked Popova 6-0,6-0 in the No. 5 contest. Kimbell improved her singles record to 22-8 on the year including 10-1 in league matches. Georgia went up 3-0 with Gilchrist’s straight set victory over Kanakova at No. 3. The 6-3,6-3 score was identical to their first result in Athens on March 2 during the regular season. Jerjomina clinched the win at No. 6 when she beat Pereira 6-1,7-6(4).
"We really set the tone with our doubles play and then continued to play well in the singles," said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace. "We had the momentum and got the first set in every singles match and got wins from Lilly, Nadja and Alina for the victory. We were in good shape in the others, and it's nice to get that first tournament win early in the day and now can rest up for the semifinals."
Also of note on Friday, Georgia played its third straight match without star freshman Lauren Herring who is out with an arm injury. Normally, Herring plays No. 2 singles and is part of the No. 2 doubles team. She is 28-7 in singles including 13-3 at No. 2; In doubles with Fuller, she is 26-12 overall and 12-4 at No. 2. With the latest win, Georgia improved to 46-18 all-time in SEC Tournament matches.
SEC Tournament Quarterfinal at Oxford, Miss.
No. 7 Georgia 4, No. 28 South Carolina 0
1. Fuller/Gilchrist (UGA) def. #37 Stojic/Alawi (USC) 8-2
2. Gullickson/Jerjomina (UGA) def. Morgina/Kanakova (USC) 8-4
3. Kowase/Kimbell (UGA) led Andersson/Popova (USC) 7-2 susp.
1. #7 Chelsey Gullickson (UGA) led #39 Anya Morgina (USC) 6-3,3-4 susp.
2. #59 Maho Kowase (UGA) led #89 Jaklin Alawi (USC) 6-3,5-2 susp.
3. Nadja Gilchrist (UGA) def. Dominika Kanakova (USC) 6-3,6-3
4. #95 Kate Fuller (UGA) led #85 Dijana Stojic (USC) 7-5,1-4 susp.
5. Lilly Kimbell (UGA) def. Katerina Popova (USC) 6-0,6-0
6. Alina Jerjomina (UGA) def. Adriana Pereira (USC) 6-1,7-6(4)
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (5,3,6)