May 9, 2009
ATHENS, Ga. -
The 24th-ranked University of Alabama (15-9) women's tennis team dropped a 4-3 decision to No. 35 Boise State (24-4) Saturday afternoon in the First Round of the 2009 NCAA Women's Tennis Championships at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga. Alabama's season culminated in its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance and achieving the team's first national ranking since 1997.
"This was a great match and, while we are disappointed not to have won, we lost to a very good team in Boise State," head coach Jenny Mainz said. "They did a great job of starting in control of points early and playing with authority. They are well-coached and poised - I was very impressed with them.
"The doubles point is always pivotal, especially at this level and in the tournament, because everyone is good. We dug ourselves quite a hole, trailing 3-0 and 4-1, but I was glad to see that our team demonstrated toughness, resilience and tenacity today just as they have all year long. It was tough having two freshmen on the court for the last hour of the match, playing against a pair of seniors. But I am encouraged at how Courtney (McLane at No. 2 singles) and Taylor (Lindsey at No. 5 singles) fought to keep us in the match."
Boise State took a 3-0 lead by winning the doubles point (their 26th doubles-point win in 28 matches this season) along with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 singles before the Crimson Tide rallied to even the match with wins at No. 4, No. 6, and No. 2 singles. The match came down to a battle at No. 5 singles between UA's Taylor Lindsey and BSU's Klaudia Wlodarczyk, who prevailed over Lindsey 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, to end the match.
Boise State won the doubles point to take an early lead. BSU's Vivien Silfany and Klaudia Wlodarczyk took an 8-5 decision over UA's Paulina Bigos and Shelley Godwin at No. 2 to start the match. Boise State clinched the doubles point when Lauren Megale and Pichittra Thongdach took an 8-3 victory over UA's Taylor Lindsay and Courtney McLane at No. 1. At No. 3 doubles, Alabama's duo of Alice Tunaru and Tiffany Welcher held a 7-6 lead over Boise State's Laura Baum and Bianca Jochimsen when doubles play was suspended.
The Broncos moved to a 3-0 lead in the match with wins at No. 3 and No. 1. The No. 3 match was a 6-0, 6-3 verdict by BSU's Vivien Silfany over Alabama's Paulina Bigos while the No. 1 match was a straight sets win by BSU's Pichittra Thongdach over UA's Tiffany Welcher, 6-4, 7-5. Facing a huge 3-0 deficit, the Crimson Tide had no margin for error in the other singles matches.
A key match in singles was at No. 2 between Alabama's Courtney McLane and Boise State's Lauren Megale, as McLane overcame injury for a gutsy 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 win. The Crimson Tide was making up ground in three other singles matches while McLane and Megale were in a tight battle throughout the first set. With the set tied at 4-4 and McLane holding the advantage and McLane about to break Megale's serve, she suffered a sprained right ankle as Megale drew even at 40-40 in the game.
After a short break to tape her ankle, McLane continued play but Megale won that game to take a 5-4 lead. McLane broke serve to tie the set at 5-5 and continued on to the 7-5 win in the first set. Megale won the second set, 6-2, but McLane, obviously playing through significant pain, soldiered on to erase an early 2-1 deficit in the third set, taking a 4-2 lead and moving on to clinch the point with a 6-3 decision to tie the match.
Meanwhile, the Tide took early leads at No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 to provide hope for the comeback. Alabama's Meritt Emery closed it out at No. 4 against BSU's Bianca Jochimsen with a straight-set 6-4, 7-5 victory. At No. 6, Shelley Godwin fell behind 4-0 in the third set against BSU's Laura Baum before rallying to take a 5-4 lead before taking the set, 7-5, to close out a 6-2, 0-6, 7-5 victory that moved the Tide within 3-2 in the match.
The No. 5 match went the distance. UA's Taylor Lindsey took the first set, 6-4, against BSU's Klaudia Wlodarczyk, and Lindsey had four match-point opportunities in the second set before dropping the set in the tiebreaker, 6-7 (5-7). That left it up to the third and final set as Wlodarczyk and Lindsey battled closely before Wlodarczyk prevailed, 6-4.
"We had a good year and we are back on track with our program," Mainz said. "We had a great start to our season, dipped a little early in conference play, but I was very glad to see us regroup late in the season. We were playing quality tennis at the end of the season."
1. Megale/Thongdach (BSU) def. Lindsey/McLane (UA) 8-5
2. Silfany/Wlodarczyk (BSU) def. Bigos/Godwin (UA) 8-3
3. Tunaru/Welcher (UA) vs. Baum/Jochimsen (BSU) 7-6, unf.
Order of Finish: 2,1
1. No. 69 Pichittra Thongdach (BSU) def. No. 81 Tiffany Welcher (UA) 6-4,7-5
2. No. 82 Courtney McLane (UA) def. Lauren Megale (BSU) 7-5,2-6,6-3
3. Vivien Silfany (BSU) def. Paulina Bigos (UA) 6-3,6-0
4. Merritt Emery (UA) def. Bianca Jochimsen (BSU) 6-4,7-5
5. Klaudia Wlodarczyk (BSU) vs. Taylor Lindsey (UA) 4-6,7-6(5),6-4
6. Shelley Godwin (UA) def. Laura Baum (BSU) 6-2,0-6,7-5
Order of Finish: 3,1,4,6,2,5*