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May 12, 2006

DURHAM, N.C. – The Virginia women’s tennis team, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in three years, advanced to the second round with a 4-3 win over Alabama Friday afternoon in a first round match at the Ambler Tennis Center. With the match on the line, Lindsey Pereira (Arlington, Texas) rallied from down a break in the third set to win a decisive tiebreaker to give the Cavaliers the victory.

The Cavaliers (14-9) opened the match by taking the doubles point, which proved to be key. The No. 23 ranked team of Lori Stern (Ojai, Calif.) and Kristen James (Clifton, Va.) scored an 8-2 win over No. 21 ranked Ashley Bentley and Robin Stephenson at No. 1 doubles. Caroline Hammond (Williamsburg, Va.) and Lara Alexander (London, England) then clinched the opening point for the Cavaliers with their 8-3 win over Shelley Godwin and Natalie McElveen at the No. 3 position.

In singles, the Crimson Tide (11-12) drew even when Stephenson topped Douglas Wink (Greensboro, N.C.) at the No. 1 position. Virginia retook the lead at 2-1 when Stern scored a 6-1, 6-1 win over McElveen at No. 4 singles. Alabama would tie the match again, 2-2, as Bentley recorded a three set win over Rachel DelPriore at No. 2 singles. James gave Virginia a 3-2 lead when she defeated Mari Muller at No. 3 singles, but Alabama would rally to tie the match again with Sofia Ayala’s win over Hammond at No. 6 singles. In the final match on the courts, Pereira won the first set against Godwin, before dropping the second. Godwin was up 5-3 in the third set before Pereira rallied to win the next three games to go up 6-5. Godwin held serve to force a tiebreaker, which Pereira won 7-5 to clinch the Cavalier victory.

The victory was the third all-time NCAA win in the history of the Virginia women’s tennis program. The last NCAA win came in 2003 when the Cavaliers downed Ohio State 4-0 in a first round match in Knoxville, Tenn.

“I really want to congratulate this team on the win,” said Virginia head coach Mark Guilbeau. “It is a great step for this team and this program to win a round in the NCAAs. Today’s win was a total team effort, from the players, to (assistant coach) Troy (Porco), I want to thank everyone for their hard work to make this possible. We deserved to win this match, but so did Alabama, and are hats are off to them. These are the type of matches where the hard work all season long pays off, and Lindsey’s performance today is proof of that.”

Virginia will meet host Duke, a 5-0 winner over Winthrop on Friday, in the second round on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at the Ambler Tennis Stadium. The Cavaliers topped Duke 5-2 in the regular season match between the teams on March 25 at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. That win snapped a 32-match Duke winning streak in the series, dating back to 1980. The winner of Saturday’s match will advance to the round of 16, where they will play the winner of the Chapel Hill regional on Thursday, May 18 at the Taube Tennis Center on the campus of Stanford University.

No. 26 Virginia 4, No. 35 Alabama 3

1) #23 Stern/James (UVa) def. #21 Stephenson/Bentley (Ala) 8-2
2) Muller/Brenes (Ala) led DelPriore/Wink (UVa) 7-4 DNF
3) Hammond/Alexander (UVa) def. Godwin/McElveen (Ala) 8-3

1) #20 Robin Stephenson (Ala) def. #116 Douglas Wink (UVa) 6-0, 6-0
2) #108 Ashley Bentley (Ala) def. Rachel DelPriore (UVa) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1
3) Kristen James (UVa) def. Mari Muller (Ala) 6-2, 6-3
4) Lori Stern (UVa) def. Natalie McElveen (Ala) 6-1, 6-1
5) Lindsey Pereira (UVa) def. Shelley Godwin (Ala) 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5)
6) Sofia Ayala (Ala) def. Caroline Hammond (UVa) 6-3, 6-2

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