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    SEC Women's Tennis Notebook

    The Alabama women’s tennis team ended the 2012 season ranked 11th in the nation, its highest final ranking in program history. The team finished with an overall record of 18-5 and 10-1 against SEC opponents. In addition to advancing to postseason play as a team, the Crimson Tide sent two individuals to the NCAA Singles Championship and pair of duos to the NCAA Doubles Championships. In singles, sophomore Mary Anne Macfarlane advanced to the Round of 32, while junior Alexa Guarachi finished up in the Round of 64. In doubles, Guarachi and senior Courtney McLane made it to the Round of 16, while Macfarlane and junior Antonia Foehse appeared in the Round of 32. Several awards were collected by the 2012 squad as McLane raked in Capital One Academic All-America First Team honors, the ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award for the Southern region, SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and All-SEC Second Team distinction. In addition, senior Taylor Lindsey was named the ITA Southern Region winner for the Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship along with being the first Tide player named to the All-SEC Tournament Team. Guarachi and Macfarlane were both named to the All-SEC First Team, while head coach Jenny Mainz was named SEC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

    The No. 33 Razorback women’s tennis team fell 4-0 to No. 43 Long Beach State in the NCAA Tournament first round Friday in Los Angeles. Arkansas ends the season with a 12-14 record, which was capped by a fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and sixth appearance in the last seven years. In the match with the 49ers, doubles play was about as close as the Razorbacks had seen all year. With every match decided by two games or less, the first team point came down to the wire. Unfortunately, Long Beach State came back from a loss at number one doubles to win the final two matches for the first team point. They then took that momentum into singles and won three straight matches at courts one, two and six to earn the first round victory over Arkansas. Junior Claudine Paulson and sophomore Laurie Gingras did earn their ninth doubles victory of the year and it was their fourth win over a ranked opponent, but it would be the only match on the day that Arkansas came out on top. With Friday’s match, the 2012 spring season is complete for the Razorback women’s tennis team. It will now head into the offseason and get ready for another season and hopefully a sixth straight run to the NCAA Tournament.

    No. 69 Auburn came up short 4-3 to No. 20 Tennessee in the first round of the 2012 SEC Women’s Tennis Championship. The loss dropped the Tigers to 8-13 on the year.  Jackie Kasler and Olivia Bennett picked up key wins over the Lady Vols. The victories improved Kasler to 20-12 on the season and Bennett to 12-3 on the year.  

    Florida will face Michigan in the NCAA Round of 16 on Thursday, May 17 in Athens, Ga., beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Florida is 2-0 all-time against Michigan, taking the 5-2 decision on Feb. 12, 2010 in the ITA National Team Indoor Round of 16 and the 5-0 victory on May 15, 1997, in the NCAA Round of 16. The Gators improved to 13-1 all-time in NCAA Round of 32 matches and will be making their 29th overall appearance in the Round of 16, including their eighth straight trip. UF has won 18 consecutive matches entering the Round of 16, where the team sports a 25-3 all-time mark. Senior Joanna Mather finished her home career with 54-0 team record. UF's caps home slate winning its 107th consecutive match, while posting its 22nd undefeated home record. The NCAA Round of 32 victory was program win No. 898 for Florida. Lauren Embree & Mather won their 22nd consecutive doubles match and improve to 51-7 all-time. The 22-match run it tied for the fourth-longest in program history.

    The Bulldogs posted a 24-5 record and finished with a No. 6 ranking in the final ITA poll for 2012. Georgia advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships. It marked the 26th straight NCAA appearance under head coach Jeff Wallace, and the 23d time that Georgia has finished with a top 10 final ranking. Seniors Chelsey Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist earned All-America honors. Gullickson became the first Bulldog in Georgia tennis history to be an eight-time All-American in their career. She was a singles and doubles All-American from 2009-12.  She ended her career with a school record 230 combined wins, going 124-34 in singles and 106-42 in doubles. It was the third All-America honor for Gilchrist who completed her career with the fourth most doubles wins in school history with a record of 101-36. As a tandem, they went 64-21. This tally ranks as the most wins by a team in Bulldog history. In 2012, Gullickson led the squad with a 34-9 singles mark and went 24-8 in doubles with Gilchrist. The Bulldog duo reached the finals of the NCAA Championships, and back in 2010, Gullickson captured the 2010 NCAA singles title in Athens. In 2012, she was named the ITA Southeast Region Senior of the Year while freshman Lauren Herring  was tabbed ITA Southeast Region Rookie of the Year. Herring went 30-9 in singles and 26-12 in doubles with sophomore Kate Fuller. In the final ITA singles rankings, Gullickson was seventh, sophomore Maho Kowase was No. 58 followed by Herring at No. 82 and Fuller at No. 94. Kowase posted a 25-8 mark while Fuller was 27-12. In doubles, the Gullickson/Gilchrist team ended up No. 13 while the Fuller/Gilchrist tandem was No. 36. The Kowase/Lilly Kimbell team made history during the 2012 season as they went undefeated in dual matches. They registered a 24-2 overall record including a school record 22-0 at No. 3 in the lineup.  The old mark for consecutive wins by a duo was 19 by Marissa Catlin and Vanessa Castellano in 1999. They finished 26-2.

    The University of Kentucky women's tennis team traveled to Oxford, Miss. for the SEC Championship held at Ole Miss. The 11th-seeded Wildcats faced 6th-seeded South Carolina in the first round of the tournament. In doubles play, the 82nd-ranked team of Jessica Stiles and Caitlin McGraw took on No. 37 Dijana Stojic and Jaklin Alawi in a highly competitive match. The two mounted a late comeback to hold off Stojic and Alawi from taking match-point on multiple occasions, holding the score at 7-6. Ultimately, Stojic and Alawi were able to barely edge out Stiles and McGraw to take the 8-6 win and the doubles point. In singles play, multiply Wildcats found strength in their second set. Unfortunately, the late surges were not enough to grab the singles wins. South Carolina secured its win as the No. 4 and No. 5 matches ended simultaneously to give the Gamecocks a 5-0 victory.

    Senior Olivia Howlett earned second-team All-Louisiana honors, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association announced on Sunday. The LSU women’s tennis team’s season came to an end at the hands of No. 19 Texas A&M 4-1, in the NCAA Tournament First Round. Ariel Morton continued her stellar late-season run as she won her third-straight singles match of the spring and her fifth win in the last six to give the Lady Tigers their only point. LSU finished the season 11-13 overall reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. LSU’s 15 Tournament appearances over the last 18 years is the most of any SEC West school during that period.  

    Ole Miss
    Ole Miss enjoyed another successful season capped off by seniors Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie earning All-America honors. Boxx and Guthrie bring the total of All-Americans in the history of the program to 10.  This marks the second time in three years for the Rebels to have multiple All-Americans.  Both helped lead the Rebels to their fourth straight NCAA appearance and a final national ranking of No. 18.  It marked the third time in the last four years for the Rebels to end the year ranked in the Top 25.  The Rebels (18-9) hosted the NCAA first and second rounds for the first time since 1999 and finished among the top four in the overall SEC standings for the second time in three years.  The 18 wins are the most since the 1999 team posted 21.  The Rebels also advanced to the National Team Indoor Final 16 for the first time since 2000.  Boxx closed out an outstanding career finishing No. 17 in the nation in singles and No. 6 in doubles with Guthrie.  Boxx has now earned top-10 finishes in doubles with two different partners. She became the second Rebel player ever to earn All-SEC first team honors all four years as well as the second player in program history to record 200 combined wins in singles and doubles.  Boxx and Guthrie earned the highest final ranking (No. 6) for a doubles team in the history of the program since the All-American duo of Agnes Muzamel/Courtney Chapman finished No. 3 in 1997.  Sophomore Caroline Rohde-Moe ended her second campaign ranked No. 84 in singles.  The Rebels also dominated the final ITA Southern Regional Rankings, boasting five players in singles and the top doubles team in Boxx/Guthrie.    Freshmen Erin Stephens and Julia Jones were among the top 10 regional players joining No. 1 ranked Boxx on the list.  Stephens also earned a regional ranking in doubles with recent graduate Gabby Rangel.    The Rebels also owned the ITA Southern Regional Awards, winning Coach of the Year (Mark Beyers), Assistant Coach of the Year (Jason Ontog), Player to Watch (Caroline Rohde-Moe) and Rookie of the Year (Erin Stephens).

    Mississippi State
    In the first round of SEC postseason play, the Lady Bulldogs of Mississippi State fell 4-0 to the No. 23 ranked Commodores of Vanderbilt. Vandy began with a win on doubles court three due to an MSU default. MSU dropped the doubles point after Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran fell 8-5 to VU’s Mira/Wu on court one. Going into singles with a 3-0 lead, Vanderbilt clinched the match after Perper fell 6-1 in the first set on court one and was then forced to retire due to an injury.

    South Carolina
    The No. 30 South Carolina women's tennis team ended its 2012 season in the NCAA Tournament second round with a 4-0 loss to No. 3 Duke. The Gamecocks defeated No. 32 TCU in their first match by a 4-1 score in the second NCAA meeting between the two schools in three years. South Carolina won the doubles point in the match and then used victories on courts three, five and six to secure the win. Sophomore Katerina Popova won the clinching match in three sets at No. 5 singles. She ended the season as the team leader in dual match victories with a 16-7 record. Junior Jaklin Alawi led the team in overall singles wins with a 25-9 mark. The top doubles record belonged to Alawi and Josefin Andersson with both compiling 22 wins individually. Popova also topped the 20-win plateau in doubles with 21 and sophomore Katerina Popova had 21. Popova had 22 in singles to finish second behind Alawi and senior Anya Morgina also reached the mark with an even 20. The Gamecocks have made the NCAA Tournament 18 times in a row, tied for the 11th longest active streak in the nation. They have won at least one match in the tournament in 16 of those 18 appearances.

    Tennessee finished the season ranked 24th, marking the 17th time in 18 years that the Lady Vols finished inside the Top 25. UT was ranked as high as fifth in 2012 and while injuries had an impact, the Lady Vols earned their 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid and advanced to the second round for the 16th time in 17 years. The season ended on a bright note as Natalie Pluskota and Kata Szekely earned All-American honors and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Tournament, the third time in four years a UT duo has done so. Pluskota also earned All-American honors in singles by advancing to the Round of 16, while Szekely and Brynn Boren each won their first match of the NCAA Singles Tournament. Pluskota finished her career as just one of four Lady Vols to become a four-time All-American and ranks sixth all-time at UT with 107 doubles wins. Szekely led Tennessee in 2012 with 26 singles wins and 31 doubles wins. She’ll enter the 2013 season as the lone senior on the squad.

    The Vanderbilt women's tennis team posted a 17-10 record in 2012, earning the program's 18th straight NCAA Tournament bid. The Commodores advanced to the second round, defeating San Diego in the opening round before falling to USC. Senior Jackie Wu led the Commodores on the season, posting a 15-9 record all at number one singles and earning First Team All-SEC honors and her third bid to the NCAA Singles Tournament. Wu was one of four Commodores to earn All-SEC honors. Marie Casares and Lauren Mira earned spots on the second team after going 10-1 and 12-4, respectively, in dual matches. Mira was also named to the All-Freshmen team, as was Ashleigh Antal. Antal posted an 18-6 record in dual matches on the year. As a team, Vanderbilt finished the season ranked 28th in the final ITA rankings. Wu finished her career as the 44th-ranked player in the nation. She was joined in the final individual rankings by Casares (89th) and Mira (92nd). Wu and Mira paired together to rank 35th in the ITA's double rankings. The pair earned a bid to the NCAA Doubles Tournament, where they went 1-1, reaching the round of 16.