March 16, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. - Trailing 3-0, the Auburn women's tennis team fought back with two straight singles victories to pull within one at 3-2, but that would be as close as the Tigers would get, as Louisville held on to defeat the Tigers, 5-2 on Thursday at the Luther Young Tennis Complex.
With Auburn (4-9, 0-4 Southeastern Conference) on the ropes, the Tigers got clutch victories from Whitney Chappell in the No. 1 match and Alex Haney in the No. 3 match, which made the Nos. 4 and 6 matches the decisive factor. The Cardinals (14-4, 1-0 Big East) were able to take the final two matches - both in three sets - and earn a 5-2 win.
After splitting the first two doubles matches, the doubles point came down to the No. 2 match between Auburn's team of Chappell and Tori Almagno and Louisville's tandem of Bianca Gorbea and Natalia Baez. The Tigers' duo held a 7-6 advantage and serve before the Cardinals' team of Gorbea and Baez rallied to win the final three games to take the doubles point with a 9-7 win.
"We are giving ourselves opportunities in doubles and we won pretty easily at No. 1," head coach Tim Gray said. "We were up almost two breaks in the No. 2 match and we were up serving 7-6 for the match and we had two double faults that really hurt us. We just have to get past making those mental errors. Winning the doubles point would have been pivotal because then we just need one of the final singles matches and that makes a difference. We are making strides. If you look at the bigger picture, we are getting better every match and we are going to get ours."
In singles play, Whitney Chappell won her third straight match at the No. 1 position, defeating Louisville's Maria Klokotzky, 7-5, 6-1.
"She just keeps stepping up big," Gray said. "As a freshman to get thrown in at the No. 1 position in the SEC is a very difficult task. Being No. 1 as a senior in the SEC is a challenge, but as a freshman it is even more of a challenge."
In the No. 3 position, Alex Haney battled back after dropping her first set to earn a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Louisville's Robyn White. The win for Haney snapped her six-match losing streak.
"It was huge," Gray said. "She beat a good player who has had some great wins both this year and last year, so I think this was a big confidence booster for her."
In the No. 4 singles match, Tori Almagno battled back to force a third set, before falling to Suzanna Gracanin, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1. After losing the first set 6-3 In the No. 6 match, Irina Pljusznyin forced a third set with Louisville's Natalia Baez with a 6-1 win in the second set. Bidding for her second straight singles win, Pljusznyin lost the match with a 6-4 setback in the third set.
In the No. 5 singles match, Leigh Tippins fell, 6-4, 6-3, to Louisville's Natalie Laszkowski. After playing six consecutive matches at the No. 3 position, Ashley Cowart was moved to the No. 2 position, where she fell to the Cardinals' Bianca Gorbea, 6-1, 6-1.
In doubles play, Louisville took the Nos. 2 and 3 matches to secure the point. Both squads split the first two matches, which made the decisive match the No. 2 match. In the deciding match, Lousiville's Bianca Gorbea and Natalia Baez defeated the Tigers' duo of Chappell and Almagno, 9-7.
Auburn's doubles victory came in the No. 1 match, as Alex Haney and Ashley Cowart won their fourth straight match and moved to 4-1 during the spring. In the No. 3 match Leigh Tippins and Irina Pljusznyin trailed Louisville's Natalie Laszkowki and Suzanna Gracanin, 6-2 and fought back to get within one at 7-6. However, the Tigers' comeback fell short, as the Cardinals took the last game and the match 8-6.
Auburn returns to the courts on Friday, when the Tigers host Georgia State at 1 p.m.
Women's Collegiate Tennis
Louisville vs. Auburn
March 16, 2006
Louisville 5 Auburn 2
1. Whitney Chappell, AU def. Maria Klokotzky, 7-5, 6-1.
2. Bianca Gorbea, Louisville def. Ashley Cowart, AU, 6-1, 6-1.
3. Alex Haney, AU def. Robyn White, Louisville, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
4. Suzanna Gracanin, Louisville def. Tori Almagno, AU, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.
5. Natalie Laszkowski, Louisville def. Leigh Tippins, AU, 6-4, 6-3.
6. Natalia Baez, Louisville def. Irina Pljusznyin, AU, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
Order of Finish: 5, 2, 1, 3, 4, 6
1. Alex Haney/Ashley Cowart, AU def. Robyn White/Maria Klokotzky, Louisville 8-5.
2. Bianca Gorbea/Natalia Baez, Louisville def. Whitney Chappell/Tori Almagno, AU 9-7.
3. Natalie Laszkowski/Suzanna Gracanin, Louisville def. Leigh Tippins/Irina Pljusznyin, AU 8-6.
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2