LSU Women Defeat Kentucky to Advance to Round Two
STARKVILLE, Miss. – The LSU women’s tennis team (9-15; 1-12 SEC) defeated 11th-seeded Kentucky (13-12; 4-9 SEC) in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament Wednesday at A.J Pitts Tennis Centre.
“Our girls showed some incredible heart today,” head coach Julia S. Sell said. “That isn’t easy after the season we’ve had. We’ve been overdue for a win, and we’ve lost a lot of close battles, so being able to pull through today is huge.”
The Lady Tigers came out strong against the Wildcats. Despite the duo of Mary Jeremiah and Ariel Morton falling 8-0 in the top spot to Kentucky’s 70th-ranked team of Nadia Ravita and Caitlin McGraw, the senior pair of Ebie Wilson and Keri Frankenberger held a commanding 6-0 lead on court two before snatching the match 8-1 over the Wildcats’ Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff and Stephanie Fox.
Kaitlin Burns and Ella Taylor carried LSU’s momentum onto court three as the tandem pulled out an 8-6 win over Kentucky’s Khristina Blacjkevitch and Jessica Stiles to clinch the doubles point.
No. 117 Burns notched the initial three games in the first set of singles play before facing a tied 5-5 score and ultimate 7-5 first-set loss to the Wildcats’ 22nd-ranked Ravita in the top spot. Ravita put Kentucky on the board after claiming the second set 6-3.
Freshman Taylor turned things around on court three with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph against the Wildcats’ Morin-Kougoucheff, putting LSU back in the lead.
“Ella (Taylor) controlled the momentum today and never let up,” Sell said.
Kentucky took first-set victories on courts two, five and six, but LSU rallied back on each court to steal the second sets and advance into the third set of competition.
Sophomore Jeremiah fell 6-0 in the first set, but retaliated to capture an 0-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory on court two over the Wildcats’ Stiles.
“I have to highlight Jeremiah for getting her first conference win of the season,” Sell said. “She was down 0-6, 0-3; but she battled back against a very good competitor.”
Junior Morton held a tightly-contested match throughout both sets against Kentucky’s McGraw, but ultimately fell 7-5, 7-6(7-3) on court four, giving the Wildcats’ their second and final point of the day.
With the pressure on courts five and six, Frankenberger held a 5-3 third-set advantage over Kentucky’s Blacjkevitch, while Wilson led 5-2 in the third set against the Wildcats’ Fox. Senior Frankenberger did not falter, as she notched the final game and clinched the match for LSU with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 score.
“Keri (Frankenberger) and Ebie (Wilson) did a great job fighting today and controlling their nerves, Sell said. “I’m really proud of this team.”
The Lady Tigers will next take on fifth-seeded Vanderbilt, the No. 18 team in the nation, in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday at 5 p.m. CT. The winner of Thursday’s match will proceed into the third round and face third-seeded Florida, ranked second nationally, Friday at 5 p.m. CT.
LSU holds a 14-22 overall record against the Commodores, as the Lady Tigers faced a 7-0 loss to Vanderbilt on March 1 at home.
For the latest information on the women's tennis team, follow the Lady Tigers on Twitter @lsuwten and @LSUJuliaSell and on www.Facebook.com/lsuwten.
Mississippi State Outsts Missouri to Advance to SEC Second Round
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State rocketed its way out of the first round of SEC Championship the first time since 2005 Wednesday, breaking an eight-match losing skid in the event with a 4-2 triumph against the No. 56-ranked Missouri Tigers at MSU's A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. State is hosting the five-day event this weekend as part of Super Bulldog Weekend festivities.
The Lady Bulldogs, who improved to 9-13 on the year, now face fifth-seeded Tennessee in the second round at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Pitts Tennis Centre for the right to advance to Friday's quarterfinals. The win was State's second over the Tigers in just four days on the MSU campus, also having defeated them Sunday 4-2 to close out the regular season.
MSU clinched Wednesday's win on court 6 when true freshman Sarai Flores rallied to claim a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win against Missouri's Madison Ryhner.
“I knew I had to stay focused,” said Flores, a freshman playing in her first championship. “I had to put the first set behind me and move forward.”
Mississippi State caught the early momentum by claiming the doubles point. MSU’s No. 68-ranked tandem of Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran initiated the Bulldog winning trend, expanding the pair’s overall record to 13-9, with a dominant 8-1 triumph against Missouri’s duo of Cierra Gaytan-Leach and Alex Clark at the No. 1 position. Missouri responded with a court 3 win to even the score, as Elisha Gabb and Madison Rhyner defeated Petra Ferancova and Sarai Flores of MSU 8-4.
MSU’s Georgiana Patrasc and Roseline Dion then sealed the doubles point in a down-to-the-wire battle on court 2. Patrasc and Dion took down Mizzou’s Rachel Stuhlmann and Maria Christensen in a 9-8(2) decision, breaking back at 8-7 down, to give MSU the early 1-0 lead.
Lady Bulldog tennis dropped the first set at five positions to begin singles competition, but the team battled through the deficits, making a big comeback to clinch the win.
Singles play began in favor of Missouri, as the Lady Tigers locked the overall score at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-0 victory for Gabb against MSU’s Ferancova on court 4. Dion then gave the Lady Bulldogs a 2-1 edge with a 6-3, 6-2 court 5 take down against Clark of Missouri.
MSU stretched its overall lead to 3-1 as Lady Bulldog veteran Perper posted her 18th victory of the season against Missouri’s Stuhlmann. Perper strormed back after dropping the first set to take the match on court 2 in a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 decision.
A determined Missouri team fought to remain within reach of a win, bringing the score to 3-2 with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 triumph for Christensen of the Lady Tigers against MSU’s Naomi Tran at the No. 3 position. But Flores's clinching victory came soon after to advance the Lady Bulldogs to the next round of the tournament.
Updates for the 2013 SEC Tournament and MSU women's tennis can be found through Twitter (@SECtennis and @mstateWT) and through live stats on the tournament headquarters page at www.HailState.com/SECtennis.