Sept. 23, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane freshmen duo of Jacqui Katz and Ipek Birol wasted little time in establishing themselves in the world of collegiate tennis as both players brought home flight titles at the Longhorn Invitational and the Green Wave combined to win 18 of 29 singles and doubles matches at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center in Austin, Texas.
Competing in a field featuring 64 players from Texas, LSU, Oklahoma, TCU, North Texas, UTSA, West Virginia, SMU, Houston, Rice and Denver, Tulane players not only won two of four singles draws but reached the semifinals in both doubles flights.
Katz began her run in the Fuchsia Flight with a win over Texas-San Antonio's Lynsey Maciolek in the opening round, 6-1, 6-3. Katz then took down LSU's third-seeded Caroline Hudson in the quarterfinal round, 6-2, 6-2.
The TU rookie continued her domination in the semifinals, making quick work of the flight's top-seeded Jane Stewart of Rice, 6-2, 6-1. In the finals, Katz completed her quest with a, 6-1, 6-1, victory over North Texas' Dane Joubert.
Birol and senior Emma Helisten each competed in the Black Flight and both players advanced out of the first round. In her first collegiate match, Birol needed a third set to dispatch North Texas' Agustina Valenzuela, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, for her first win in a Tulane uniform. Helisten, meanwhile, cruised past OU's Jane Pinkston, 6-1, 6-2.
In the quarterfinal round, Helisten dropped her match to the second overall seed, Annat Rabinovich from Texas, 6-2, 6-1. However, Birol kept her hopes alive with an upset of Denver's top-seeded Mandy van der Eerenbeemt, 6-1, 6-1. Birol then knocked off Rice's Solo Zinko in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-0. In the championship match, the TU freshman outlasted Rabinovich in a three-set thriller, 7-6, 1-6, 6-4.
"I am incredibly proud of the team once again this weekend," Tulane head coach Terri Sisk said. "Having a record of 18-11 at this level of a tournament shows the talent level and depth of this team and really gets me excited for the spring. Huge congratulations are in order for our two freshmen- Jacqui and Ipek- for bringing home championships in each of their flights. Jacqui has already come a long way since her debut two weeks ago in Auburn and Ipek steps up and wins her debut for Tulane against a very solid player for Texas. Again, I am very proud of this team for their fight.
"We also had another highlight of the tournament with making the semifinals of both flights in doubles with doubles teams that aren't accustomed to playing with each which again reiterates how tough this team really is."
In doubles action, Tulane's third-seeded tandem of senior Emma Levy and junior Jenny Hois teamed up to win two matches in the Orange Flight before falling in the semifinals. In the opening round, Levy and Hois downed West Virginia's team of Hailey Barrett and Audrey Wooland, 8-5, and then raced past Houston's Liselot Koenen and Charolotte Phillips, 8-3, in the quarterfinals. The duo saw their run end with an 8-4 loss to North Texas' Keseniya Bardabush and Franziska Sprinkmeyer, 8-4, in the semifinal round.
The senior duo of Caroline Thornton and Caroline Magnusson won their opening match over North Texas' Valentina Starkova and Barbora Vykydalova, 8-1, but dropped their next match to SMU's fourth-seeded team of Edyta Cieplucha and Aleksandra Malyarchikova, 8-3.
Katz and Helisten joined forces in the White Flight and advanced to the semifinals before bowing out. The duo got by LSU's Caroline Hudson and Ella Taylor, 8-6, in their first match and then came up with an 8-6 win over West Virginia's Ikktesh Chahal and Emily Mathis in the quarterfinal round. Katz and Helisten came up short to North Texas' Joubert and Liona Serchenko, 8-6.
The Green Wave returns to action at the prestigious Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, Oct. 1-9, in Pacific Palisades, Calif.