CLEMSON, SC - The 13th-seeded Clemson women’s tennis team overcame a big Vanderbilt lead and a bout of rain in defeating the Commodores, 4-2, in the NCAA Women’s Tennis Team Championships at the Hoke Sloan Tennis Center. Sophomore Beatrice Gumulya overcame a first set loss to bounce back for a 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 win as she fought full-body cramps.
With the win, Clemson advances to the Round of 16, held at the Kahn Tennis Center in Urbana, IL, and hosted by the University of Illinois.
“This is a wonderful team,” said Harris. “They’re young, they’re exciting, and they’re very talented. The team just has great chemistry. I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to head to Champaign, IL, and play in the Sweet Sixteen. The more rounds we go through as a young team, the better we will be in the future.”
This is the 11th NCAA Round of 16 berth for the Tigers all-time, and the eighth in the last ten seasons. The Tigers improved to 15-1 under Nancy Harris in NCAA matches held at home, and this might have been the most impressive, advancing without a junior or senior on the roster.
Clemson overcame the loss of the doubles point, improving to 7-7 this season when doing so. Vanderbilt was ranked 19th in the nation, moving Clemson to 6-6 this season against top-25 competition.
Gumulya and Yana Koroleva did win their match over the No. 12 ranked doubles team in the nation in Lauren Mira and Courtney Colton. They dropped the first three games, but rattled off eight straight for the 8-3 win. However, the Tigers could not claim another decision to claim the point.
The match was halted for nearly two hours when the rain came down midway through the first singles set, after Vanderbilt had claimed the doubles point. More than 20 workers from facilities to sports information worked for 30 minutes to dry the courts, armed with 12 squeegees and six high-powered blowers.
The rain effectively halted Vanderbilt momentum, and gave the Tigers the second “halftime” they needed to recuperate and flip matches.
Out of the break, sophomore Romy Koelzer fell in straight sets on court four, which gave the Commodores a 2-0 lead. That’s when things changed for Clemson.
The first Clemson point came from freshman Liz Jeukeng on court two. She dispatched Courtney Colton, 6-2, 6-2 for her 18th win of the season. The All-ACC selection got back into the decision after having her match halted at 6-1, 5-2 on Saturday after the match was clinched.
Yana Koroleva finished next, as she was undeterred by No. 63 Lauren Mira’s change of pace and slice shots. Koroleva downed the Commodore senior, 6-2, 6-3, en route to her 24th win of the season overall. Koroleva earned an invitation to the NCAA Singles Championships, along with Gumulya and Jeukeng, and the trio lived up to their billing on Saturday.
The turning point of the match came on adjacent courts, three and five, where Gumulya and Ani Miao each dropped first sets before the rain came. Gutsy efforts from each forced third sets, and the fiery Miao won, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 over Ashleigh Antal to give Clemson a 3-2 lead.
That left Gumulya and yesterday’s clincher, Tristen Dewar on the court. Dewar had won the first set on court six, but could not close out in the second set, despite serving up 5-4. She was early in the third set, while Gumulya and No. 95 Georgina Sellyn also battled the heat on three.
Gumulya was a slow starter, as Sellyn looked for the upset of the Tiger sophomore, ranked 40th in the nation. Sellyn won the first set, 6-1, and was up a break at 6-5, but Gumulya broke back to force a tiebreaker, which she won, 8-6, to force a third set.
Gumulya went ahead, 4-1 in the third set as the cramping started to set in. Sellyn came back to make it 4-2, before Gumulya broke again to go up, 5-2. After taking the first set, Gumulya went down in pain, and had trouble walking. The trainer, Monica Lopes, was called to her side as she went down at the baseline. The coaching staff and Lopes urged Gumulya to continue to hydrate as she stretched.
"Bea just has such courage," said Harris. "In that type of situation, Bea is the one you want out there. She never gives up. That was the key to the win today. We were in trouble after the doubles, the singles weren’t going fabulous, but we refused to go away as a team. We’ve talked about that all year, and our girls kept battling and came through."
Out of the timeout, Gumulya was physically unable to serve, even trying to go underhand at one point. Sellyn would break, cutting the margin to 5-3, and serving. But Gumulya would not quit, and rattled off the next four points in breaking Sellyn before she was mobbed by teammates. The win improved Gumulya to 4-0 in her NCAA career and was her 10th straight win this season.
She is now 25-4 this year, and has won 36 of her last 40 matches.
Clemson will await the winner of the Georgia regional in the round of 16. Play begins on May 16 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex.
Tennis Match Results
Vanderbilt vs Clemson
May 11, 2013 at Clemson, SC
(Hoke Sloan Tennis Center)
#13 Clemson 4, #19 Vanderbilt 2
1. #16 Yana Koroleva (CU) def. #63 Lauren Mira (VU) 6-3, 6-2
2. #33 Liz Jeukeng (CU) def. Courtney Colton (VU) 6-2, 6-2
3. #40 Beatrice Gumulya (CU) def. #95 Georgina Sellyn (VU) 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3
4. Marie Casares (VU) def. Romy Koelzer (CU) 6-1, 6-0
5. Ani Miao (CU) def. Ashleigh Antal (VU) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
6. Tristen Dewar (CU) vs. Frances Altick (VU) 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 3-2, unfinished
Vanderbilt 16-12; National ranking #19
Clemson 16-7; National ranking #13
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (4,2,1,5,3)
NCAA Championships - 2nd Round in Clemson, SC
Clemson advances to NCAA Round of 16 at the University of Illinois