OXFORD, Miss. - Seventh-ranked Georgia registered a 4-2 win over No. 11 Alabama Saturday to advance to the finals of the SEC Women's Tennis Tournament.
The Bulldogs (21-3) claimed a thrilling doubles point and then notched three singles matches for the win over the SEC Western Division Champions on the campus of Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide (17-4) posted a 10-1 league mark in the regular season including a 4-3 win at Georgia. On Saturday, Georgia would not be denied.
The No. 2 doubles contest was the first off the court as Alabama’s Mary Anne Macfarlane and Antonia Foehse registered an 8-2 win over Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson and Alina Jerjomina. Then, the Bulldogs picked up another upset at No. 1 in the tournament when Kate Fuller and Nadja Gilchrist beat the 22nd ranked team of Alexa Guarachi and Courtney McLane 8-6. In the regular season meeting, the Alabama duo breezed to an 8-3 win over Fuller and Gilchrist. On Friday, the Bulldog duo upset the 37th-ranked South Carolina team of Dijana Stojic and Jaklin Alawi 8-2. The No. 3 Bulldog team of Maho Kowase and Lilly Kimbell looked to be in good shape early on with a 7-3 lead but the Alabama tandem of Taylor Lindsey and Yasmeen Ebada stormed back to tie the match at 7-all. Kowase and Kimbell responded to take the match 9-7 and give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. The Kowase/Kimbell team now has won 18 straight matches and owns a 20-2 record this year.
In singles, Alabama grabbed the momentum back by taking the first set in five of the six matches. The lone exception was at No. 1 where the seventh-ranked senior Gullickson was taking care of business against 19th-ranked Macfarlane. However, Alabama evened the overall match with a quick win at No. 6 where Lindsey defeated Jerjomina 6-0,6-1. Gullickson put Georgia back in front 2-1 with a 6-3,6-0 victory to move her record to 31-7 this season. Alabama tied the match at 2-all when Clay beat Fuller 7-6,6-2 at No. 4. Georgia’s other senior, Gilchrist, rallied back at No. 3 to put the Bulldogs in front 3-2. She posted a 3-6,6-3,6-1 win over McLane to give her a 20-8 record on the year.
Kowase forced a third set in the No. 2 match while Kimbell had split sets at No. 5. Kowase, ranked 59th, clinched the team win, outlasting 44th-ranked Guarachi 3-6,6-2,6-2. She is now 23-6 this year.
“This was a great win from the way doubles went to how we fought back in singles,” said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace. “This team has fought hard all year and found ways to win when things aren’t going well. The No. 1 doubles match was a big turnaround from the first time we played them and getting that win was a big help in getting the doubles point. Our seniors came through in singles, and I told them that’s what seniors are supposed to do in the postseason. They stepped up and took the lead and helped get the team a victory to get to the finals.”
Georgia will likely play top seed and third-ranked Florida (19-1). The Gators face Ole Miss (17-7) in Saturday’s other semifinal. Meanwhile, Sunday’s final is slated to begin at 1 p.m. ET. Georgia will be going for its seventh SEC Tournament title, the most recent came in 2009. Georgia is 47-18 all-time in SEC Tournament matches.
Also of note, Georgia played its fourth 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.
SEC Tournament Semifinal at Oxford, Miss.
No. 7 Georgia 4, No. 11 Alabama 2
1. Fuller/Gilchrist (UGA) def. #22 Guarachi/McLane (UA) 8-6
2. Macfarlane/Foehse (UA) def. Gullickson/Jerjomina (UGA) 8-2
3. Kowase/Kimbell (UGA) def. Lindsey/Ebada (UA) 9-7
1. #7 Chelsey Gullickson (UGA) def. #19 Mary Anne Macfarlane (UA) 6-3,6-0
2. #59 Maho Kowase (UGA) def. #44 Alexa Guarachi (UA) 3-6,6-2,6-2
3. Nadja Gilchrist (UGA) def. Courtney McLane (UA) 3-6,6-3,6-1
4. Alexa Clay (UA) def. #95 Kate Fuller (UGA) 7-6,6-2
5. Lilly Kimbell (UGA) vs. Antonia Foehse (UA) 6-7,6-2, susp.
6. Taylor Lindsey (UA) def. Alina Jerjomina (UGA) 6-0,6-1
Order of Finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,1,4,3,2)