Women’s Tennis: No. 1 Wildcats smack Yellow Jackets

Jimmy Mitchell

In 2007 and 2008, powerhouse Georgia Tech claimed victory at the ITA National Indoor Championship, a brutal four-day tournament of the country’s top teams.

In Sunday’s match against the No. 4 Yellow Jackets, the No. 1 Wildcats made it clear that their ITC win last week marked a passing of the torch to a new tennis juggernaut.

Top-ranked NU (8-0) trounced Georgia Tech (5-2) 5-2 Sunday at the Bill Moore Tennis Center in Atlanta. Less than a week after the grueling ITC tournament, NU showed no signs of easing its intensity level against one of the nation’s best teams, coach Claire Pollard said.

“I knew that the schedule was going to be very challenging in February when I skimmed it in the preseason,” Pollard said. “It would have been really easy to have a letdown after our performance last weekend, but I think (Sunday’s win) was an indication of the competitiveness of the girls and the maturity that they have and their desire to keep playing great matches.”

Sunday’s match marked the beginning of a critical stretch of the season for NU, as the Cats are scheduled to take on a plethora of top-25 teams, including No. 6 Duke and No. 13 North Carolina next weekend.

How NU fares in the coming weeks will show just how good the team is, Pollard said.

“It’s a great opportunity to play against the very best,” she said. “I think it helps you understand just how good you need to be in order to play at the very top of college tennis. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Playing a tough schedule is good for that.”

Sophomore Maria Mosolova, currently the top singles player in the country, lost a second consecutive match Sunday. After suffering a defeat in last Monday’s ITC final against Georgia, Mosolova fell to 13th-ranked Irina Falconi of Georgia Tech on Sunday.

Still ranked No. 1 in singles, Mosolova is facing the usual hardships of being at the top.

“It’s tough being the number one player in the country,” Pollard said. “Everyone plays (Mosolova) with everything to gain and nothing to lose. I think she’s not playing as free as she needs to.”

Senior Georgia Rose, the Cats’ No. 2 player, has picked up the slack during her teammate’s brief slump. Facing Georgia Tech’s No. 10 Amanda McDowell, who won the NCAA singles championship in 2008, No. 25 Rose engaged in a competitive back-and forth during the first set before winning the tiebreaker, 7-6.

After dropping the second set, 6-3, Rose dominated the third, 6-1, to take the point.

“(Rose’s) match, the way it went down, was just unbelievable. The quality of tennis was outstanding,” Pollard said. “The first set was just a war between two girls playing really high quality tennis. Georgia just wore (McDowell) down.”

Rose also teamed with junior Lauren Lui for a doubles victory to help NU win the doubles point. Junior Samantha Murray and seniors Nazlie Ghazal and Keri Robison also won singles matches for the Cats.

[email protected]