Feb. 3, 2018
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia (3-2, 2-0 ACC) women’s tennis team closed strong on Saturday to rally for a 4-3 win over Syracuse (3-1, 0-1 ACC) at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
With Syracuse holding to a 3-1 lead in the overall match score, the Cavaliers fought back with wins at No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 singles to pick up the victory and remain undefeated in ACC play. Chloe Gullickson (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) started the rally at four singles, before Meghan Kelley (Falmouth, Maine) would tie the match with her win at three singles.
Cassie Mercer (Huntington, W.Va.) then capped the rally as she gutted out a third-set tiebreak to secure the Virginia victory.
“I’m extremely proud of the composure, the fight and the heart we showed throughout the entire match,” said Virginia head coach Sara O’Leary. “We did not play well in doubles and I challenged them before singles to come out and focus on our side of the match and getting better.
“There were plenty of momentum switches throughout the match, but no one got down and no one lost focus looking around. Everyone stayed focused on their own court and what was happening in their own match. I was really proud of Cassie coming out and staying so positive and strong in a high-pressure moment. It was a real team effort today.”
The tone for the match was set early with tight doubles matches on all three courts. Syracuse took the doubles point with 6-4 victories on courts two and three. The Syracuse pairing of Dina Hegab and Maria Tritou defeated Virginia’s Mercer and Teodora Radosavljevic (Belgrade, Serbia) on court two for the first victory. The Orange’s Sofya Golubovskaya and Anna Shkudun then defeated Virginia’s Hunter Bleser (New Braunfels, Texas) and Gullickson to secure the doubles point.
The marquee matchup of the day between No. 14 Rosie Johanson (Abbotsford, British Columbia) and Kelley of Virginia and the No. 16 duo of Gabriela Knutson and Miranda Ramirez was at 4-4 in a tiebreak on court one when the point was clinched.
In singles play, the Cavaliers wasted no time in tying things up as Radosavljevic posted a straight-set win over Tritou. The 6-2, 6-0 victory for the Cavalier senior tied the overall match score at 1-1.
Syracuse then moved back in front with back-to-back wins at No. 5 and No. 1 singles. Hegab of Syracuse won 6-3, 6-3 over Virginia’s Erica Susi (Vero Beach, Fla.) on court five to give the Orange the lead back. It moved out to a 3-1 lead in the overall score after No. 17 Knutson posted a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 48 Johanson on court one.
That’s when the three remaining Cavaliers gutted out their wins to grab the victory. Gullickson cruised through her second set after playing through a tiebreak in the first to win on court four. She defeated Shkudun of Syracuse 7-6 (5, 6-1. It was followed by a gritty three-set win by Kelley on court three over Golubovskaya 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to tie the match.
All eyes then shifted to court two where Mercer fought back after dropping the first set to clinch the win for the home team. She defeated Syracuse’s Ramirez 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4).
Virginia will return to action on Friday, Feb. 16, when the Cavaliers host No. 10 Michigan at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. The match is set to begin at 5 p.m.
Virginia 4, Syracuse 3
1. No. 17 Gabriela Knutson (SU) def. No. 48 Rosie Johanson, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
2. Cassie Mercer def. Miranda Ramirez (SU), 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4)
3. No. 111 Meghan Kelley def. Sofya Golubovskaya (SU), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
4. Chloe Gullickson def. Anna Shkudun (SU), 7-6 (5), 6-1
5. Dina Hegab (SU) def. Erica Susi, 6-3, 6-3
6. Teodora Radosavljevic def. Maria Tritou (SU), 6-2, 6-0
Order of Finish: 6, 5, 1, 4, 3, 2
1. No. 14 Johanson/Kelley vs. No. 16 Knutson/Ramirez (SU), 6-6 (4-4) – unfinished
2. Hegab/Tritou (SU) def. Mercer/Radosavljevic, 6-4
3. Golubovskaya/Shkudun (SU) def. Bleser/Gullickson, 6-4
Order of Finish: 2, 3