TUSCALOOSA, AL – The 20th-ranked Clemson women’s tennis team fell to ninth-ranked Alabama on Sunday, 4-2, at the Roberta Alison Baumgardner Tennis Facility in Tuscaloosa, AL in the ITA Kick-off Weekend. The Tigers were vying for a bid to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, VA. The loss to Alabama came a day after defeating No. 24 Tulsa, 4-0, on Saturday.
Sophomore Yana Koroleva and freshman Liz Jeukeng each upset singles players ranked in the top-15 in the Alabama match for Clemson’s two points.
Clemson dropped the doubles point and Tristen Dewar fell on court four, 6-2, 6-0, to give Alabama the 2-0 lead. Jeukeng earned her win to get Clemson on the board. Emily Zabor then beat Romy Koelzer, 7-5, 6-2 on court five to make it 3-1. Koroleva’s upset moved it to 3-2, but Natalia Maynetto beat Ani Miao, 7-5, 6-2 to clinch. Beatrice Gumulya had split sets with No. 59 Maya Jansen when the match was halted.
What made Koroleva’s result more incredible is that she trailed, 5-1, in both sets against Mary Anne Macfarlane, who checks in at No. 12 in the nation. Koroleva, who ranks 32nd, reeled off six straight games to win in the first set, and then four straight to tie it at five in the second. After each player held, they went to a tiebreaker, which Koroleva claimed. Koroleva’s 7-5, 7-6(3) victory on court one was her fourth against a top-50 player, and her second against a top-20.
Jeukeng won, 6-4, 6-1 over No. 13 Alexa Guarachi, who held a 4-1 lead in the first set on court two. Jeukeng responded with her back to the wall with five straight games to claim the first set, and then the first five games of the second set. Guarachi did get one back to pull within 5-1, but Jeukeng closed her out in the next game.
Jeukeng is now 3-0 this season, with wins against two ranked players. The freshman is just 16 years of age, and enrolled at Clemson in January.
Alabama’s second-ranked Macfarlane and Guarachi took flight one with an 8-5 win in doubles over Koroleva and Dewar. Clemson responded with an 8-6 win at flight three doubles by Gumulya and Jeukeng. Alabama clinched the doubles point with a deciding 8-7 (5) win on court two, as Jansen and Foehse downed Koelzer and Miao.
Clemson will return to action on Saturday against No. 6 Georgia in Tigertown, before hosting No. 31 South Carolina on Sunday.