Bulldogs Face Yellow Jackets in Florida
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The No. 37 Yale women's tennis team is headed to Gainesville, Fla., to take on No. 22 Georgia Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs, who earned a spot in the tournament as the Ivy League's automatic qualifier for the third straight season, gathered in Ray Tompkins House Tuesday evening to view the selection show and find out their first-round opponent. They will face the Yellow Jackets on Saturday, May 11 at 10:00 a.m., and the winner of that match will face the winner of the match between No. 1 Florida and Marist.
Florida, seeded No. 1 in the tournament, hosts both the first- and second-round matchups at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. The Gators have won back-to-back NCAA Championships.
Yale (17-3, 6-1 Ivy League) enters the tournament having won eight of its last nine matches, and having been ranked as high as No. 23 this season. The Bulldogs are the Ivy League's three-time reigning champion, sharing this year's title with No. 57 Columbia.
This will be Yale's fourth overall NCAA Tournament appearance as a team. Last season the Bulldogs defeated No. 42 Saint Mary's (Calif.) in the first round before falling to No. 5 Stanford in the second. The Bulldogs also reached the second round in 2011 but have never broken through to the Round of 16.
The Bulldogs are led by senior captain Elizabeth Epstein (Chicago, Ill.), who plays No. 1 singles and is ranked No. 75 nationally. Having won the team's Lisa Rosenblum Award for most valuable player the past two seasons, Epstein has a 14-6 record at singles this season. Recently she has also played No. 1 doubles with sophomore Hanna Yu (Northbrook, Ill.).
Yale's other senior, Sarah Guzick (Greer, S.C.), has picked up a pair of wins in singles and in doubles this spring.
Yale's biggest scorer this season is junior Annie Sullivan (Deerfield, Ill.), who, with 19 wins and one unfinished match, remains undefeated at singles. Sullivan has played at Nos. 3-5 this season but has recently settled into the No. 3 spot. In her last two matches, she also earned wins at No. 3 doubles with freshman Courtney Amos (Tucson, Ari.).
The Bulldogs have used 15 different doubles pairs this season, with freshman Madeleine Hamilton (Greensboro, N.C.) and sophomore Amber Li (Tampa, Fla.) tying Epstein and Sullivan for winningest pair. Both boast nine wins on the season, Hamilton and Li in 14 matches and the more senior pair in 13. As a team, Yale has won the doubles point in 14 of its 20 matches this season.
Amos and Hamilton are part of a talented freshman class that also include Ree Ree Li (Waxhaw, N.C.), who has one singles win and one doubles win this spring.
Yale and Georgia Tech have never met in a dual match, but Yale came to the fall Georgia Tech Invitational in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, Georgia Tech won all seven singles matches and all three doubles matches against Bulldog opponents. In 2010, the Bulldogs won one singles match (Vicky Brook '12) and one doubles match (Brook and Lindsay Clark '11) against Yellow Jacket opponents.
Adding to Yale's familiarity with the Yellow Jackets, Bulldog assistant coach Kirsten Flower played at Georgia Tech as a freshman and as a sophomore.
Georgia Tech (14-9, 7-4 ACC) earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament after finishing fifth in the ACC and falling to No. 11 Miami in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Apr. 26. The Yellow Jackets had won eight of 10 matches prior to that.
Georgia Tech's top doubles team, an all-freshman duo of Megan Kurey and Kendal Woodard, is 19-2 in dual matches this spring and is ranked No. 56 in the country. Woodard also has a team-best 23 wins in singles this season, playing primarily No. 2, and is ranked No. 90 in the country. She was recently named All-ACC.
Elizabeth Kilborn, Georgia Tech's No. 1 singles player and the only senior on the team, is ranked No. 92 and has beaten five ranked opponents among her 14 singles wins.
The Yellow Jackets are in their first season under head coach Rodney Harmon. They have made the NCAA Tournament for 14 straight seasons, advancing to the Sweet 16 seven times and winning the NCAA Championship in 2007.
Florida (22-2, 12-1 SEC) will play Marist at 1:00 p.m. on May 11 in the other first-round matchup in Gainesville. The Gators, who won their fourth straight SEC Championship this year, have hosted first- and second-round matches every year since the NCAA Women's Championship expanded to 64 teams in 1999.
Florida boasts the No. 1 singles player in the country and the SEC Player of the Year, Lauren Embree. She is one of seven ranked singles players for the Gators, and she teams with Sofie Oyen to give Florida the No. 12 doubles team in the country.
Florida is making its 31st appearance in the 32-year history of the NCAA Championship. The Gators have won six NCAA team titles and have advanced to the semifinals 21 times in the last 25 years.
Marist (11-7, 6-1 MAAC) earned a spot in the tournament as the automatic qualifier from the MAAC. The Red Foxes beat Fairfield 4-1 in the MAAC Championship to earn the bid. That was their sixth win in a row.
The 64-team single-elimination NCAA Tournament begins at 16 different host sites with the first and second rounds held May 10-12. The winner of each host site advances to the Round of 16, to be played at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Urbana, Ill., where Illinois hosts the remainder of the tournament May 16-27.
NCAA Tournament matches are regulation dual matches with three eight-game, pro-set doubles played for one team point, followed by six singles matches, each valued at one team point, played best of three sets. Regular scoring will be used and a 12-point tiebreaker will be played at eight-games-all in doubles and at six-games-all in singles.
Florida is also hosting the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships first and second rounds. Tickets may be purchased in advance or on each day of the tournament. An ALL-SESSION Pass is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for senior citizens, college students, and children under 17. SINGLE DAY tickets for Friday and Saturday are $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for senior citizens, college students and children under 17. SINGLE DAY tickets for Sunday are $3.00 for everyone. Spectators interested in purchasing an advance ALL-SESSION Pass may do so by contacting:
Gator Ticket Office
Post Office Box 14485
Gainesville, FL 32604
352/375-4683, ext. 6800
Tickets also are available for purchase online at www.Gatorzone.com/tickets
Gates will open for fans one hour prior to the start of the first competition each day. Please note that seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. No saving of seats will be permitted.
A Will Call window for the teams will also be located at the Ring Tennis Complex entrance.
Report by Joe Giammittorio '15 and Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity