Slupska Wins Title at Dick Vitale Classic
Nov. 14, 2011
LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. - Playing in their final tournament of the fall season, three women's tennis players advanced to the semifinals of the Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic, with senior Mariya Slupska eventually besting teammate Courtney Collins to take the women's singles title. Sophomore Stefanie Mikesz also advanced to the semis before losing to Slupska while freshman Alyssa Hibberd reached the quarterfinals before being forced to retire due to illness.
"This was a great tournament for our entire team," said Memphis head coach Lee Taylor Walker. "It was just a very special weekend and made for lifelong memories for each of our players. After last weekend's home tournament I wasn't sure if it could get better because the girls were playing so well and improving each day. But they took it to an even higher level this weekend, and I couldn't be more excited about how this fall went. I am very thankful to the team for being such a teachable and fun group. It's time to get some rest, recharge and get ready to have some more fun in the spring."
Both Collins and Slupska had impressive runs to reach the championship match. After an opening-round bye, Slupska rallied to defeat Oklahoma State's Malika Rose, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. Slupska then took on Notre Dame's Britney Sanders in the quarterfinals and once again won in three sets, 6-3, 0-6, 6-1. Slupska's semifinal match pitted her against teammate Mikesz with Slupska emerging victorious at 6-1, 6-2.
On the other side of the draw, Collins also had a first-round bye and then posted an easy 6-2, 6-1, triumph over Mississippi State's Petra Ferancova. Collins then faced Tennessee's Sarah Toti and gutted out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, win to reach the semifinals. Her opponent, Oklahoma State's Meghan Blevins, advanced to the semis by virtue of Hibberd's retirement and was no match for the 78th-ranked Tiger as Collins won 6-3, 6-3.
With a crowd numbering in the hundreds and legendary basketball personality Dick Vitale on hand to make the introductions, Slupska and Collins faced off Sunday for the tournament title. The unranked Slupska stated her case for rankings points heading into the spring season with a 6-3, 6-2, win.
While Slupska and Collins put together the best run of the tournament, Mikesz had arguably the biggest win of the event with a 6-2, 7-6 (2), upset of No. 31 Brynn Boren from Tennessee in the round of 16. Boren, the tournament's No. 1 seed, was the runner-up at last month's USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regionals hosted by Memphis but was swept off the court by the Tiger sophomore. Mikesz scored an opening round 6-2, 6-1, victory over Notre Dame's Julie Sabacinski and then defeated Oklahoma State's Mary Jeremiah 6-4, 6-3, to set up a showdown with Slupska in the semifinals.
Hibberd also enjoyed success at the tournament with an opening-round win over Oklahoma State's C.C. Sardinha, 7-6 (6), 6-2, and a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3) round of 16 victory over Tennessee's Johanna Henderson. However, trailing 1-6 in her quarterfinal match against Blevins, it was an unseen opponent that ended Hibberd's run as she bowed out due to illness.
"Having all our players in the quarterfinals, three in the semifinals and two of ours battling it out for the championship was incredible," said Walker. "Each girl on our team had significant victories including Stefanie's win over top-seeded Brynn Boren of Tennessee. I am just so happy for the girls and the university."
The Memphis quartet also competed in the doubles draw with Collins and Hibberd pairing up to reach the semifinals before falling, 4-8, to Blevins and Jeremiah and Slupska and Mikesz losing, 5-8, to Boren and Toti in the quarters.