Friday, March 19, 2004
Muller lost the first set and faced a 5-2 deficit in the second before mounting her comeback. Playing at No. 5 singles, she fought off three match points against South Carolina’s Justine Walsh and won five straight games to win the second set, 7-5.
Muller broke serve early in the third set and served out the set to tie the team match, 3-3.
“She’s faced that type of pressure situation before and today the way she battled back was incredible,” Alabama head coach Jenny Mainz said. “Ultimately, she believed in herself and that’s why she was able to come back like she did. On the big points she wasn’t afraid and was able to pull the trigger.”
Meanwhile, Stephenson faced defeat at No. 1 singles, with Gamecock sophomore Danielle Wiggins serving for the match with a 5-4 lead in the second set. Stephenson fought off two match points to tie the set and turn the match in her favor.
“When I was down 5-4 in the second set (assistant coach) Daryl (Greenan) told me that if I can break serve here the match was mine. It just clicked for me after that and I was able to finish strong.”
Stephenson won a tiebreaker in the second set before storming to victory with a 6-0 third-set romp.
“Robin hasn’t been in a situation yet where she had to close out a match in order for us to win,” Mainz said. “She battled herself a little today, but the thing all of our players are learning to do is to settle down and get into a rhythm and let things happen for them. There were spots today where we didn’t play well, but we competed well and that was the difference in the match.”
Not lost in the late-match heroics sophomore Ashley Bentley, who scored her 11th-straight singles win with a commanding 6-1, 6-2 victory. Bentley teamed with Stephenson in doubles for the pair’s 7th-consecutive doubles win.
Alabama faces its toughest challenge of the season on Sunday, hosting undefeated and 3rd-ranked Florida on Sunday. The match begins at 1 p.m. at the UA Rec Courts, and admission is free.
Alabama 4, South Carolina 3
1. Bentley/Stephenson (UA) d. Ganzer/Wiggins (USC) 8-2
2. Lucas/Koon (USC) d. Minor/Begovic (UA) 8-5
3. Muller/Koppelle (UA) d. Wojdylo/Suzuki (USC) 9-7
1. Robin Stephenson (UA) d. Danielle Wiggins (USC) 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-0
2. Ashley Bentley (UA) d. Christyn Lucas (USC) 6-1, 6-2
3. Laura Ganzer (USC) d. Nathalie Koppelle (UA) 6-1, 6-2
4. Magda Wojdylo (USC) d. Millie Begovic (UA) 6-3, 7-6 (8)
5. Fallon Koon (USC) d. Melissa Minor (UA) 7-6, 6-2
6. Mari Muller (UA) d. Justine Walsh (USC) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4