March 6, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - From the start of the 2009-10 season, Tulane University women's tennis coach Terri Sisk made it her squad's goal to simply show steady improvement from a year ago and do whatever it takes to get better from match to match. On Saturday afternoon at the Goldring Tennis Center, the Green Wave's overall improvement was on full display.
After dropping a 6-1 decision to Kansas on April 10, 2009, in Lawrence, Kan., the Tulane looked to be anything but a second-year program in a 7-0 sweep of the Jayhawks. With the win, the Green Wave improve to 6-4 on the year. Kansas, meanwhile, falls to 5-4.
"A 7-0 win over a very talented and deep team like Kansas is ground-breaking for us," Sisk said. "We did have a couple of matches that went three sets, and I thought that both teams did a really good job of battling and playing high-percentage tennis. Today, I honestly think the girls just decided that they wanted to win.
"I challenged them in the locker room before the match to just believe - believe what they are capable of. I showed them some results from teams that are ranked in the Top 75 and I said, `Girls, here is where we are and the only way to get to that caliber is you have to step up and beat teams like Kansas. Enough talking. If you want to beat teams like Kansas, you have to do that today.'"
Wherever the motivation came from , the results were impressive and it started in doubles where Tulane came away with the point for an early lead. Sophomore Elizabeth Hamlin and freshman Hila Elster - who returned to the court after missing the last two matches with an ankle injury - defeated the Kansas combo of Victoria Khanevskaya and Maria Martinez, 8-2, on Court 3.
The Jayhawks tied doubles play on Court 2 as the Green Wave duo of Lindsay Dvorak and Emma Helistén rallied from a 7-2 deficit to make a 7-6 affair before Kuningunda Dorn and Sara Lazarevic halted the come-back attempt to hang on for an 8-6 win. Tulane's No. 1 doubles team of Mariam Kurdadze and Emma Levy, however, came through in the clutch with an 8-1 win over Ekaterina Morozova and Erin Wilbert to put the Green Wave on top 1-0.
"I told them in the locker room that last year, we won five total games in doubles. We lost 8-1, 8-1, 8-3. We're a different team now. We're different, we're smarter, we're older and we're wiser on the court. I told them that they're going to have to do something early and can't afford to give a team like Kansas a 1-0 lead. All the hard work we did this week really paid off.
In singles play, Elster made quick work of Khanevskaya on Court 6 - 6-0, 6-1 - to give Tulane a 2-0 lead while Hamlin rallied from a 6-1 opening-set loss with 6-2, 6-4 wins to down Martinez on Court 3. Dvorak, meanwhile, clinched the match with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Dorn in No. 4 action. While the team decision had already been confirmed, the drama was just beginning on the other three remaining singles matches.
On Court 2, Levy defeated Lazarevic in the first set, 6-4 and led 5-4 in the second set. Lazarevic rallied to take a 6-5 lead before Levy scored to tie the match and clinched it with a 7-5 showing in the tie-breaker. Kurdadze, meanwhile, dropped her opening frame to Morozova, 6-3, but rallied to win the second set, 6-4. In the third contest it was all Kurdadze as the Green Wave sophomore scored the first five points of the contest and cruised to a 6-1 win on Court 1.
The most exciting match of the day came on Court 5 where Wilbert blanked Helistén 6-0 in the first set and held a commanding 5-2 lead in the second set. One point from defeat, Helistén bounced back to tie the set at 6-all and won the tie-breaker, 8-6. In the third set, like on Court 1, it was all Tulane and Helistén closed out the sweep with a 6-4 win.
"It is enough to say it, but you have to truly believe that you are that caliber of player," Sisk said. "They proved that today. They proved a lot of things today. They proved that they can battle with anybody in the country. This is another baby step for us. To beat a team of this caliber 7-0 is good for a lot of things, but more than anything, it's good for confidence and momentum."
The Green Wave return to action on Wednesday, March 10, when they play host to Southern Illinois at 2 p.m. in the Goldring Tennis Center. Admission to every home Tulane tennis event is free. From there, Tulane heads to Mobile, Ala., on March 13 for a match at South Alabama and then to Baton Rouge, La., on March 17 to take on LSU.
TULANE GREEN WAVE (6-4) DEF. KANSAS JAYHAWKS (5-4) - 7-0
No. 1: Mariam Kurdadze (Tulane) def. Ekaterina Morozova (Kansas) - 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
No. 2: Emma Levy (Tulane) def. Sara Lazarevic (Kansas) - 6-4, 7-6 (7-5)
No. 3: Elizabeth Hamlin (Tulane) def. Maria Martinez (Kansas) - 1-6, 6-2, 6-4
No. 4: Lindsay Dvorak (Tulane) def. Kunigunda Dorn (Kansas) - 7-5, 6-2
No. 5: Emma Helistén (Tulane) def. Erin Wilbert (Kansas) - 0-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3
No. 6: Hila Elster (Tulane) def. Victoria Khanevskaya (Kansas) - 6-0, 6-1
No. 1: Mariam Kurdadze / Emma Levy (Tulane) def. Ekaterina Morozova / Erin Wilbert (Kansas) - 8-1
No. 2: Kunigunga Dorn / Sara Lazarevic (Kansas) def. Lindsay Dvorak / Emma Helistén (Tulane) - 8-6
No. 3: Hila Elster / Elizabeth Hamlin (Tulane) def. Victoria Khanevskaya / Maria Martinez (Kansas) - 8-2