Friday, January 23, 2004
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama women’s tennis team pulled out a close match in its season opener with a 4-3 win over Louisville (2-2) Friday night at the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
Tide sophomore Melissa Minor scored the match-clinching win at No. 4 singles with a three-set victory over Louisville’s Christina Gogol. Minor cruised in the first set, winning 6-0, then hit a wall. After dropping the second set, 6-2 and losing serve in the first game of the third, Minor rallied to win six of the last eight games to seal the Cardinals’ fate.
“Melissa really showed poise out there,” said Alabama Head Coach Jenny Mainz. “She did a very good job of handling the pressure, even though she really hadn’t been in that position before.”
“I just told myself to stay calm and focus on every point,” Minor said. “I knew I couldn’t look ahead and I would be fine.”
The Crimson Tide got singles victories at No. 1 with Robin Stephenson and No. 3 with Ashley Bentley. Both ladies controlled their matches from the start and never relinquished a lead.
“I really have to commend our team,” Mainz said. “We’re fighting through some things right now and I knew it would be tough. Louisville is a good team, they are strong and athletic. We gained some momentum with the early doubles wins, and it really got us going in the right direction.”
The Tide impressed early with an overwhelming doubles performance, winning the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles matches with identical 8-1 scores. The No. 3 doubles match was suspended at 3-2 when ‘Bama clinched the doubles point.
The Crimson Tide faces a daunting road ahead, playing at Cambridge, Mass. against 13th-ranked Harvard on Jan. 31, followed by a showdown with 22nd-ranked Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. on Feb. 8. The next home match for the Crimson Tide will be on Feb. 15, when Alabama faces Florida State.
Complete Match Results Follow:
Alabama 4, Louisville 3
1. Robin Stephenson/Ashley Bentley (UA) d. Michele Spiess/Leslie Stewart (UL) 8-1
2. Nathalie Kopelle/Melissa Minor (UA) d. Kelly Taylor/Julia Hierl (UL) 8-1
3. Natalie McElveen/Mari Muller (UA) vs. Christina Gogul/Paige Eber (UL) 3-2 susp.
1. Robin Stephenson (UA) d. Leslie Stewart (UL) 6-1, 6-1
2. Michelle Spiess (UL) d Nathalie Koppelle (UA) 4-6, 1-6
3. Ashley Bentley (UA) d. Kelly Taylor (UL) 6-3, 6-3
4. Melissa Minor (UA) d. Christina Gogol (UL) 6-0, 2-6, 6-3
5. Julia Hurl (UL) d. Mari Muller (UA) vs. 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
6. Natalie Laszkowski (UL) d. Natalie McElveen (UA) def. Inj.