UGA women’s tennis defeats North Carolina State to reach NCAA Tournament’s Round of 16

UGA women's tennis-NCAA tournament
Georgia's Kennedy Shaffer returns a shot during the NCAA Tournament match against North Carolina State at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens on Sunday.

ATHENS — In the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, the Georgia women’s tennis team had an answer for every question North Carolina State threw its way.

While the Bulldogs put together a 4-0 win over the Wolfpack, it wasn’t always easy, as many matches came down to the wire.

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“It’s do or die and every match is going to be of really high quality, we expected nothing less [today] from an energetic N.C. State team,” junior Kennedy Shaffer said. “It shows that even in the early rounds there is no such thing as an easy match anymore.”

Georgia immediately rose to the challenge during the doubles portion of the match. Almost simultaneously, Georgia fell on Court 1, with Ellen Perez and Caroline Brinson losing 4-6 to Martina Frantova and Anna Rogers, while winning on Court 3 with Marta Gonzalez and Mariana Gould picking up a close 7-5 win.

This caused the doubles point to come down to the match on Court 2, where Shaffer and Elena Christofi battled with Bianca Moldovan and Claudia Wiktorin. And after a back-and-forth match between the two teams, the Georgia duo finally broke through with the 7-6 (3) tiebreaking win.

“I thought every time that it got really close, and it seemed like it could go either way, I thought we rose to the occasion,” Georgia coach Jeff Wallace said. “That doubles point was one of the most exciting doubles points of the year for us and at the end be able to lift our tennis up and play the way that we played was great.”

The challenge didn’t end in doubles play though, as the Wolfpack continually tested the Bulldogs in singles play.

On Court 1, Perez took a quick 6-0 set to begin singles play but fell behind 4-1 in the second set. The No. 1 Georgia player won four straight games before pushing the set to a tiebreaker.

“I think it was a little bad luck so it could have easily been closer,” Perez said. “I knew that if I just stuck to my game and played how I knew I could that I could easily come back in that set.”

And she did, punching another Georgia win with a 7-6 (5) victory in the second set.

Shaffer, who finished her match first on Court 3 6-1, 6-2, watched Georgia take the win in singles.

“I saw people get hit and then hit back harder,” Shaffer said. “[We] kept coming at [N.C. State] and really had a presence.”

The challenge N.C. State brought is just the beginning for the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament, as Georgia will advance to the Round of 16 to face No. 12 seed Pepperdine on Friday.

Overall, that is what Wallace wants for his team.

“I saw us meet the challenge and I thought that was important for us to do because it was a great match,” Wallace said. “That is what you want in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, you want your team to be fighting because that is where it is going to continue to take.”

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