May 30, 2010
ATHENS, Ga. - No. 2-ranked California women's tennis sophomore Jana Juricova advanced to the 2010 NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Singles Championship title match with her 19th consecutive victory on Sunday (May 30) at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the campus of host University of Georgia. Juricova's 14th win over a ranked opponent in her last 19 matches came against 2009 runner-up No. 7 Laura Vallverdu of Miami in the semifinal. She becomes the first Golden Bear to advance to the singles championship match since 2006 when Susie Babos claimed the crown as a sophomore.
Juricova will seek her 20th consecutive victory, 45th overall, when she faces No. 12 Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia in the title match at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, May 31. Juricova now holds a 44-6 record in 50 singles matches this season, including a 23-3 mark in duals.
“Today was a great match," said Juricova. "(Laura) Vallverdu is very good, and I knew the first set was very important to win. As far as tomorrow, (Chelsey) Gullickson is a great player. It’s going to be tough, but I am ready.”
Gullickson defeated No. 4 Hilary Barte of Stanford, 7-6(6), 6-3, in the other semifinal match and is 2-0 in matches against Juricova. The two met in the NCAA singles round of 16 in 2009 where Gullickson took a 6-3, 7-6(5) victory en route to an appearance in the semifinal as a freshman. Juricova lost to a No. 2-ranked Gullickson a second time in the 2009 ITA/Riviera All-American singles semifinal, 7-6(3), 7-5. Earlier this week, Gullickson took out No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Irina Falconi of Georgia Tech in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, in the quarterfinal.
The Juricova and Gullickson championship match creates an all-sophomore title card and guarantees that a sophomore will claim the NCAA crown for the seventh time in the 29-year history of the singles championship. Juricova could also become the 16th NCAA singles champion to hail from the Pac-10 conference.
Vallverdu claimed the first point of the semifinal match but Juricova broke the Miami serve to claim the first game. Vallverdu then broke back in the second game to earn the one-all tie. The two held serve for the next four games to arrive at a three-games all tie before Juricova earned the second break of the set to take a 4-3 lead. Again, Vallverdu responded to earn a break of her own to knot the set at five-all. With Vallverdu holding serve in the 11th game, Juricova took a 15-40 lead but Vallverdu closed to force deuce before taking the 6-5 lead. Though Vallverdu took the first point of the 12th game, Juricova scored four straight points to hold serve and force a first-set tiebreaker.
Juricova surrendered the first two points of the tiebreaker with unforced errors but put home a cross-court volley winner to get on the board. Vallverdu took a 6-5 lead to hold set point as she forced Juricova into a tough return that went long but Juricova's backhand volley earned a sixth point for the six-all tie. Juricova's aggressiveness forced two consecutive errors by Vallverdu to set her up with the 8-6 win in the breaker and a 7-6 win in the first set.
The second set was a different story for Juricova as she raced out to a 3-0 lead by breaking the Vallverdu serve in game two. Vallverdu was able to hold and get on the board with a 3-1 deficit in game four but Juricova held herself and went up, 4-1. With serve in hand, Juricova built a 40-15 lead in the seventh game and forced Vallverdu to go wide on the next point to take a commanding 5-2 lead. In the final game, Juricova went up two match points as she blasted a volley down the line. Vallverdu was able to stave off one match point but couldn't hold on any longer as Juricova forced her return to go long on the next point for the 6-2 win.
Please visit www.ncaa.com for live score updates and streaming video of the singles championship match.
2010 NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Singles Championship