Senior Ana Maria Saaibi celebrates her win at No. 6 singles in Tulane's 4-3 win over TCU in the Second Round of the NCAA Chamapionships.
May 14, 2005
NEW OREANS, La. - For the second time in nearly three weeks, the No. 16 Tulane women's tennis team used wins at first and second doubles and singles victories on courts three, five and six to edge No. 18 TCU, 4-3, to advance further into the postseason. Saturday's win over the Horned Frogs in the Second Round of the NCAA Championships moves the Green Wave into the Round of 16 for the second consecutive season.
No strangers to each other, the two teams met for the third time this season with the same result each time, a 4-3 Tulane victory. The last time the two teams met was April 24 in Fort Worth, when Tulane won its third consecutive Conference USA crown and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
As in the previous two contests, the Green Wave took the 1-0 lead after taking the doubles point by claiming two of three matches. TCU had the early advantage, winning the match on the third court, but Tulane's tandem of Jenny Kuehn and Julie Smekodub, ranked No. 42 in the nation, went back-and-forth with TCU's Besovic and Nichols before pulling away for an 8-5 win on court two. Just as in the C-USA title bout, all eyes were on court one as Maria and Darya Ivanov, ranked No. 31, edged No. 29 Cetnik/Tweedie-Yates to give the Wave a 1-0 advantage heading to singles play.
"We've had 4-3 three times, and it's like coming up heads three times in a row defying the odds in such close matches," Tulane coach David Schumacher said. "The girls played with a whole lot of heart. They were dinged up in several cases, but weathered through that with a lot of courage. For Darya Ivanov to come out and clinch the doubles point with her sister is, I think, the key to the match. That shows a whole lot of heart and inspired the team."
TCU, which ended the season at 21-5, dropped the doubles point for just the fourth time this season. Tulane has taking the doubles point three of the four times while Baylor claimed the doubles the other match, all of which resulted in TCU losses.
As the match moved to singles, Story Tweedie-Yates won in straight sets over Maria Ivanov at No. 1 (7-5, 6-4) to even the score. But shortly thereafter, Smekodub, playing with a leg injury, gutted out a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Kewa Nichols on court three as Tulane moved ahead 2-1.
Just as quickly as the Wave took the lead, the Frogs came back to win in three sets on courts two and four to take a 3-2 advantage. But senior Ana Saaibi fought back after taking the first set and falling in her second to defeat Gloriann Lopez in three sets, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. As Saaibi was putting the finishing touches on her match on court six, fellow senior Kockott battled an ankle injury as well as Andrea Morgado on neighboring court five. Kockott dropped her first set 6-4 but came up victorious in the next two to clinch the match with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph.
"Our team has a lot of heart and we fight for every point not matter how much pressure you feel or how hurt you are," Smekodub said. "Everyone fights for each other."
Tulane (25-5) will take a 17-match winning streak to the NCAA Round of 16, facing Kentucky on Thursday, May 19, at 2 p.m. (CT) in Athens, Ga.
"It was really nice to have a big crowd today, the crowd was instrumental in the victory," Schumacher added. "This team is a team with a lot of depth, and they certainly have the potential to compete against anybody. And I've known that for a long time. It's not really surprising, but it's always nice to have that validated."
No. 16 Tulane 4, No. 18 TCU 3
5/14/05 - NCAA Championships Second Round
Goldring Tennis Center - New Orleans, La.
1. No. 31 M. Ivanov/D. Ivanov (TU) def. No. 29 Cetnik/Tweedie-Yates (TCU): 8-6
2. No. 42 Kuhn/Smekodub (TU) def. Besovic/Nichols (TCU): 8-5
3. Paige Brown/Karla Mancinas (TCU) def Kockott/Saaibi (TU): 8-5
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. No. 14 Story Tweedie-Yates (TCU) def. Maria Ivanov (TU): 7-5, 6-4
2. No. 40 Helena Besovic (TCU) def. No. 47 Jenny Kuhn (TU): 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
3. Julie Smekodub (TU) def. Kewa Nichols (TCU): 7-5, 6-4
4. Ana Cetnik (TCU) def. Darya Ivanov (TU): 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
5. No. 106 Nancy Kockott (TU) def. Andrea Morgado (TCU): 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
6. Ana Saaibi (TU) def. Gloriann Lopez (TCU): 6-1, 5-7, 6-4
Order of Finish: 1,3,2,4,6,5