The No. 33 Oregon women’s tennis team took the courts Friday morning against No. 38 Tennessee in quest of the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2004.
Today’s match was filled with grit and perseverance, something head coach Alison Silverio has preached and praised all season. The Ducks trailed two different times in the match, but ultimately came away with a convincing 4-2 victory over the Volunteers.
Today was also a day of firsts, as only junior Shweta Sangwan had a career NCAA Tournament victory prior to today. Junior Daniela Nasser, sophomore Julia Eshet, freshman Julia Lilien all came away with their first career victories in the tournament. It also marks the first victory for Silverio as she continues to reach new heights with this rising program.
— Oregon Ducks WTennis (@OregonWTennis) May 11, 2018
The Ducks got off to a slow start in doubles play. Tennessee, a very strong doubles team, took the point. Tennessee’s Sadie Hammond and Gabby Schuck defeated Alyssa Tobita and Rifanty Kahfiani 6-2. The other half of the doubles point came from court three, where there was a battle of freshman. Tenika McGiffin and Chelsea Sawyer defeated Julia Lilien and Paiton Wagner 6-4.
Nasser was the one to tie the match the first time, quickly downing Kaitlin Staines 6-2, 6-3. Tennessee then regained the lead after Johanna Silva defeated Wagner 6-4, 6-2.
Although the Ducks were trailing 2-1, the four remaining singles players were all tied or winning their match.
Once again, continuing on this season’s many themes, a race ensued to see who would get their first career NCAA Tournament victory between Lilien, Tobita and Eshet.
Eshet was the first victor in that race, tying the match at two after defeating Schuck 6-4, 7-6.
Lilien was the next, taking her match over Ariadna Riley. Lilien was able to bounce back just like the team did. After dropping the first set 0-6, she won the next two 6-4, 6-3 and put the Ducks one win away from the historic victory.
Sangwan clinched her match 7-6, 6-2 over Elizabeth Profit, which sent the Ducks into the second round.
Oregon’s next match will most likely be against No. 3 Duke Saturday. The Blue Devils have two doubles pairs ranked in the top-10 in No. 6 Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen and No. 9 Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy. They also have five players ranked in the top-125, led by No. 6 Harris and followed by No. 28 Chen, No. 55 Meible Chi, No. 84 Hamlin and No. 116 McCarthy.
Despite being outranked, Oregon will look to continue its year of firsts and get out of Durham, North Carolina with a 2-0 weekend.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack