TAMPA, Fla. (April 19, 2012) – With the match tied 3-3, senior Morgan Ivey (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) edged her opponent in the third set after overcoming seven match points in the second set tiebreaker to push No. 8 seed Rutgers University women’s tennis past No. 9 seed University of Cincinnati, 4-3, on Thursday in the first round of the BIG EAST Championships held at the University of South Florida. RU took the doubles point and split the six singles matches to seal the victory that took 4:30 on a warm Florida morning.
The Scarlet Knights (13-8) advanced to the quarterfinals and will play top-seeded Notre Dame on Friday, April 20 at 9 a.m. at the Varsity Courts.
“This was an incredible match,” said ninth-year head coach Benjamin Bucca. “Both teams gave everything they had and their certain level of intensity that made this match very memorable. We were able to take the doubles point and that proved to be very important. In singles the seniors led the way, especially with Morgan winning an epic second set tiebreaker.
“Congratulations to Cincinnati,” continued Bucca. “They played hard, but the difference was just our will to win and the competitive spirit we displayed. Rutgers never gave in and fought all the way to the end and ultimately that led us to victory. It was a great match and we look forward to facing Notre Dame tomorrow morning.”
Rutgers started off the morning with a strong performance in doubles to take the opening point. The duo of Ivey and freshman Lindsay Balsamo (Wall, N.J.) won their match convincingly, 8-1, to put the first team pair of senior Jennifer Holzberg (Easton, Conn.) and sophomore Vanessa Petrini (Stamford, Conn.) in position to take the early lead. The tandem of Holzberg and Petrini improved to 16-4 on the season.
Holzberg took her contest at the number two slot in singles, but the Bearcats (7-17) won at the fourth and sixth positions to even the match at two with three singles results left to be decided. Petrini then won at number one to put the Scarlet Knights one win away from the victory, with Ivey coming through to send RU to the next round.
Ivey dropped the first set and faced match point seven times in a second-set tiebreaker, but overcame defeat each time to win the breaker, 15-13. Petrini also prevailed after dropping the first set in her match.
RU did not face the Fighting Irish in the regular season, last squaring off with UND on April 18, 2009 in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championships. Notre Dame won the match, 4-0, and is currently ranked No. 17 in the latest ITA rankings.
Rutgers 4, Cincinnati 3
1. Vanessa Petrini (RU) def. Jasmine Lee (UC) 0-6, 6-4, 6-3
2. Jennifer Holzberg (RU) def. Kristina Georgieva (UC) 6-4, 6-3
3. Morgan Ivey (RU) def. Ashleigh Witte (UC) 4-6, 7-6 (15), 6-1*
4. Sierra Sullivan (UC) def. Stefania Balasa (RU) 6-2, 6-1
5. Safiyya Ismail (UC) def. Lindsay Balsamo (RU) 5-7, 6-2, 6-3
6. Carly Wilson (UC) def. Satreethai Sasinin (RU) 6-2, 6-3
1. Jennifer Holzberg/Vanessa Petrini (RU) def. Jasmine Lee/Ashleigh Witte (UC) 8-6*
2. Morgan Ivey/Lindsay Balsamo (RU) def. Safiyya Ismail/Kristina Georgieva (UC) 8-1
3. Sierra Sullivan/Carly Wilson (UC) def. Stefania Balasa/Satreethai Sasinin (RU) 9-7
Order of Finish: 6, 4, 2, 1, 5, 3*
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