TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Ole Miss women’s tennis sophomore Vivian Vlaar rallied to defeat Texas A&M's Janine Erasmus in a third set tiebreaker to clinch a 4-3 win for the Rebels in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend here Saturday. The Rebels advance to play the winner of No. 18 Florida State/Ohio State Sunday at 1 p.m.
With the match tied at 3, it was up to Vlaar to stage a comeback, and she did just that. Down 4-2 in the third and decisive set, the Belgium native won three straight games to go up 5-4 and then dominated the tiebreaker 7-3 in just her fourth match of the year after having surgery on her wrist in the offseason.
“It was a great college tennis match with lots of momentum changes,” head coach Mark Beyers said. “We played very well in doubles and never really gave them much of an opportunity to get in the matches. But I have to give Texas A&M credit for coming back in singles and playing hard and pushing us to the brink.”
The Rebels won the doubles point, and that proved to be the difference in the match. The senior duo of Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie, ranked No. 4 in the nation, downed Cristina Sanchez Quintanar and Sun Wen 8-4 at No. 1 doubles and then Gabby Rangel and Erin Stephens topped Janelle Cuthbertson and Nazari Urbina 8-6 at No. 2 to clinch the point.
Ole Miss quickly went up 2-0 in singles as freshman Julia Jones led her A&M’s Cuthbertson 4-2 in the first set when the Aggie retired.
The Aggies then won three straight matches to pull ahead 3-2 in the overall match. In a battle between two of the nation’s top-ranked players at No. 1 singles, Sanchez-Quintanar, ranked No. 11, got the best of Boxx, ranked No. 12, 6-2, 6-2.
Santacroce squared the match with her straight 6-4, 6-2 win against Ole Miss’ Stephens at No. 4 singles.
The remaining three matches all went three sets. At No. 3 singles, Guthrie won the first set against A&M’s Wen, 6-3, but the Aggie rallied to take the final two sets 6-3, 6-4 to give her team the lead.
Rebel sophomore Caroline Rohde-Moe had to battle back in her match as well after dropping the first set 6-4 and falling behind early in the second set. She ended up winning the second set 7-5 and holding on the third set 6-4 to even the match at 3, setting up Vlaar’s match-clinching victory.
“We are proud of Vivian and Caroline for coming back after being a set down. In the end we needed both of those. It’s nice when you play for 4 1/2 hours or more and get the win. It was good for the freshmen to see that. We’re looking forward to another great match Sunday.”
The winner of Sunday’s match will advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Final 16 in Charlottesville, Va. Feb. 10-13. Live scoring of the match will be available at www.seminolesports.com.
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