May 11, 2018
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The No. 23 Virginia (16-8) women’s tennis team opened the 2018 NCAA Tournament with a win on Friday, defeating VCU (17-6) by a score of 4-2 at the Carolina Tennis Complex.
With the win, Virginia advances to face host and 10th-seeded South Carolina (20-6) at 2 p.m. on Saturday (May 12).
With a tight second set underway on court one and the Cavaliers holding to a 3-2 lead in the match, sophomore Chloe Gullickson (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) finished off a come-from-behind win on court four singles to clinch the match for Virginia. Gullickson, who had dropped her first set, rallied with solid performances in the second and third to grab the 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over VCU’s Noumea Witmus.
Virginia took the doubles point then used singles wins from Gullickson, Meghan Kelley (Falmouth, Maine) and Teodora Radosavljevic (Belgrade, Serbia) to take the match victory and advance in the tournament. The singles match on court one between No. 32 Rosie Johanson (Vancouver, British Columbia) and VCU’s Anna Rasmussen went unfinished once Virginia clinched the win.
“We’re excited we get to play another match tomorrow,” said Virginia head coach Sara O’Leary. “We were a little nervous in this match today, but we fought through it. I’m extremely proud of Chloe. She’s come a long way with the mental side of things. Her focus was incredible. She didn’t look ahead or behind, she stayed focused on the task at hand. I’m really proud of her.”
Virginia claimed the doubles point with wins on courts one and two as the nationally-ranked tandems took care of business with 6-3 victories. The No. 16 pairing of Johanson and Kelley defeated the Rams’ duo of Delgado and Witmus on court two, while the No. 54 pairing of Gullickson and Cassie Mercer (Huntington, W.Va.) won over VCU’s Rasmussen and Yano on court one.
VCU snagged back-to-back matches on courts six and two, respectively, to move into the lead. Sofia Sualehe won 6-2, 6-1 over the Cavaliers’ Hunter Bleser (New Braunfels, Texas) on court six to get the Rams on the board. Paola Delgado then won 6-2, 6-0 on court two over Mercer to put VCU on top.
The lead for the Rams was short-lived, however, as Radosavljevic tied things up in the overall match score moments later, closing out her 6-3, 6-0 win over Kanako Yano on court five.
Virginia moved back in front with a win from Kelley on court three. After trailing by three games in the first set, the junior rallied to claim it and then cruised in the second set on the way to her 6-4, 6-1 win over Marina Alcaide.
Virginia then clinched the match with the win from Gullickson on court four as she battled back from dropping the first set to Witmus.
No. 23 Virginia 4, VCU 2
1. No. 32 Rosie Johanson vs. Anna Rasmussen (VCU), 6-7 (5), 5-4 (unfinished)
2. Paola Delgado (VCU) def. Cassie Mercer, 6-2, 6-0
3. Meghan Kelley def. Marina Alcaide (VCU), 6-4, 6-1
4. Chloe Gullickson def. Noumea Witmus (VCU), 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
5. Teodora Radosavljevic def. Kanako Yano (VCU), 6-3, 6-0
6. Sofia Sualehe (VCU) def. Hunter Bleser, 6-2, 6-1
Order of Finish: 6, 2, 5, 3, 4
1. No. 54 Gullickson/Mercer def. Rasmussen/Yano (VCU), 6-3
2. No. 16 Johanson/Kelley def. Delgado/Witmus (VCU), 6-3
3. Alcaide/Saulehe (VCU) vs. Bleser/Radosavljevic, 5-2 (unfinished)
Order of Finish: 2, 1