Tigers Continue Run at USTA/ITA Regionals
Oct. 17, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Newcomers Alyssa Hibberd and Tiffany Welcher will represent the Memphis Tigers in the Doubles Main Draw Championship of the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regionals after posting a gritty win Monday in the semifinals. Senior Courtney Collins advanced to the singles semifinals but could not take out No. 31 Brynn Boren of Tennessee.
"Our team fought hard today, and we all got better," said Memphis head coach Lee Taylor Walker. "For the most part, our team embraced playing tougher opponents and found the challenge enjoyable."
Hibberd and Welcher battled it out in the semifinals against Kentucky's Jessica Stiles and Khristina Blajkevitch. The Memphis duo was down 7-6 but took the next two games to serve for the match at 9-7. However, the Wildcats weren't going down without a fight and broke Welcher's serve to force a tiebreak. The Tigers dominated the decisive frame, winning 7-3.
Tuesday's Doubles Championship will feature Hibberd and Welcher facing off against Tennessee's Natalie Pluskota and Kata Szekely. Pluskota, ranked No. 29 in singles, is also ranked 22nd nationally in doubles with teammate Joanna Henderson. However, Henderson had to pull out earlier in the tournament. The winner of the Championship match will earn an automatic bid to the National Indoor Championships held Nov. 4-6.
"I'm excited for Alyssa and Tiffany," said Walker. "They have showed great composure and courage the whole tournament. Tomorrow will be a fun match."
On the singles side, Memphis started the day with three players still alive in the main draw quarterfinals. However only Collins made it to the semifinals. Senior Mariya Slupska lost to Pluskota, 1-6, 1-6, and sophomore Stefanie Mikesz, who took out Vanderbilt's 110-ranked Lauren Mira to become the only unseeded player in the quarters, fell to Boren, 7-5, 0-6, 3-6.
No. 78 Collins reached the semifinals with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win over Szekely in the third of three Memphis-Tennessee quarters. But Collins suffered the same fate as her teammate against Boren, losing 5-7, 6-7, (5).
"Stefanie and Courtney experienced heartbreaking losses," said Walker. "But knowing their character, it will only give them more of a desire to work harder to be the very best."
Tiger Kelly Gray had a busy day in the back draw as she advanced to the singles championship with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over UT Martin's Johanie Van Zyl and a walkover win against Louisville's Manuela Velasquez. She faced ETSU's Paula Jaime in the title match but could not gain the upper hand, falling 3-6, 5-7. Gray teamed with Collins in the back draw doubles championship, but the pair was thwarted by Indiana's Evgeniya Vertesheva and Kayla Fujimoto.