Bulldogs take the doubles point and add three singles wins, as the Longhorns’ season ends with a 19-8 overall record.
ATHENS, Ga. – Sixth-seeded Georgia (24-4) claimed the doubles point and posted three singles wins in a 4-0 victory over 11th-seeded Texas Thursday evening in the round of 16 at the NCAA Championship. The Longhorns’ season, which featured UT’s first Big 12 Championship since 2005 and its third NCAA round-of-16 appearance in the last five seasons, comes to an end with a 19-8 overall record. The host Bulldogs advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals where they will meet the winner of Thursday’s Duke-Virginia match.
Georgia opened the doubles session by registering early service breaks on all three courts, and the Bulldogs ultimately took control of each match. Georgia’s 46th-ranked duo of Kate Fuller and Nadja Gilchrist broke for a 5-3 lead over Texas’ Lina Padegimaite and Noel Scott at first doubles, and the UGA tandem ultimately prevailed, 8-3.
Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson and Lauren Herring raced out to a 5-1 lead over UT’s Krista Damico and Cierra Gaytan-Leach at second doubles. The Bulldogs went on to close out an 8-4 win that sealed the doubles point. The remaining match at third doubles was suspended.
Texas and Georgia played over an hour into singles play and completed the first sets in each match before heavy rain forced the teams off of the courts. NCAA officials elected to relocate the match to Georgia’s nearby indoor tennis facility, which houses four courts, and play resumed an hour later.
In the match at second singles featuring UGA’s Gilchrist against Texas’ Damico, Gilchrist held serve for a 5-4 lead before breaking Damico to take the set, 6-4. Gilchrist held a 4-1 second-set lead when rain halted the match. After play resumed, Damico held serve to pull within 4-2, but Gilchrist held serve and broke Damico once more to take a 6-2 second-set win and push the Bulldogs’ lead to 2-0.
Texas’ Scott trailed Georgia’s Herring by a 4-0 count at fourth singles before pulling within 4-3. But, Herring held serve and broke Scott to take the set, 6-3. Leading 4-3 when the match relocated indoors, Herring broke and held again to claim the second set, 6-3 and extend the Georgia lead to 3-0.
The clinching point came from Georgia’s 58th-ranked Kowase against UT’s Padegimaite at third singles. Kowase raced out to a 4-0 lead before Padegimaite inched her way back and evened the set at five games all. Kowase held serve and broke Padegimaite in the next two games to take the first set, 7-5. Kowase raced out to a 4-0 lead once more in the second set before finishing off a 6-1 second-set win indoors that gave Georgia its fourth point that clinched the match.
The remaining matches at first, fifth and sixth singles were called given that Georgia had clinched the match. The Bulldogs’ Gullickson held a 6-4, 5-3 lead over UT’s Ellis at first singles. After dropping the first set, 6-1 to Georgia’s 96th-ranked Fuller, Gaytan-Leach rebounded to take a 5-4 second-set lead when the match was called. Texas’ Begley dropped the first set to Georgia’s Kimbell at sixth singles before taking a 4-1 second-set lead when the match was clinched.
Aeriel Ellis will begin play in the 64-player singles draw at the NCAA Championship on Wednesday, May 23. Ellis registered two singles wins in the event last season, which made her UT’s first All-American since the 2000 season. Ellis has qualified for all nine national championship events contested in her three seasons as a Longhorn.
POST-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE COMMENTS
Texas head coach Patty Fendick-McCain
They (Georgia) just played better than us, quite frankly. They played with a lot of heart. They just outplayed us today, it’s as simple as that. I think we needed to have our A-plus games, the way that they played. We just met a better opponent today.
On the Longhorns’ season and NCAA finish
Well, for us, it’s about putting in the work every single day, and it’s about consistency. We had a lot of ups and downs this year. We showed great resiliency throughout the year. We took a couple of hard knocks along the way and bounced right back and did really well afterward. For us, getting here and making the final 16 was great, but we had hoped to go quite deep in the draw. I thought we had the talent and the mental toughness – everything that’s required to go deep in this draw. We have a very young team, and this was their first taste of this for a lot of them. Our freshmen and sophomores had not experienced something like this before. They will gain a lot from this experience and use it to their advantage next year.
On the Georgia crowd
I think the Georgia fans are just good, spirited fans. They are very good sports. It adds to the excitement of the match. I don’t think it put off anybody on our team. We knew there would be a lot of Georgia fans here.
On whether she felt the rain delay would swing the momentum
I was doing a rain dance at one point (laughs), but unfortunately these two (Georgia) girls at No. 1 and No. 2, they were pretty good indoors, so that didn’t help us when we had to start off with our top four in (due to Georgia having four indoor courts, instead of six). I was kind of hoping we could flip a coin and get to start with five and six out there, because we were doing okay there.
NCAA Championship Round of 16
(6) Georgia 4, (11) Texas 0
Dan Magill Tennis Complex – Athens, Ga.
Doubles – Order of Finish: 1, 2
1 #46 Kate Fuller/Nadja Gilchrist (UGA) def. Lina Padegimaite/Noel Scott (UT) – 8-3
2 Chelsey Gullickson/Lauren Herring (UGA) def. Krista Damico/Cierra Gaytan-Leach (UT) – 8-4
3 Lilly Kimbell/Maho Kowase (UGA) vs. Elizabeth Begley/Aeriel Ellis (UT) – 6-3, susp.
Singles – Order of Finish – 2, 4, 3
1 #7 Chelsey Gullickson (UGA) vs. #40 Aeriel Ellis (UT) – 6-4, 5-3, susp.
2 Nadja Gilchrist (UGA) def. #68 Krista Damico (UT) – 6-4, 6-2
3 #58 Maho Kowase (UGA) def. Lina Padegimaite (UT) – 7-5, 6-1
4 #70 Lauren Herring (UGA) def. Noel Scott (UT) – 6-3, 6-3
5 Cierra Gaytan-Leach (UT) vs. #96 Kate Fuller (UGA) – 1-6, 5-4, susp.
6 Elizabeth Begley (UT) vs. Lilly Kimbell (UGA) – 4-6, 4-1, susp.