MADISON, Wis. -- University of Texas senior Ristine Olson (Missoula, Mont.) capped a furious Texas rally Saturday with a three-set win over Duke's Kristin Cargill to lift the Longhorns to a 4-3 semifinal win over the Blue Devils at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships. The victory places the Longhorns in a national-title match against Stanford for the second time in as many seasons.
The National Team Indoor Championship is one of two national team championship events recognized by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the governing body of collegiate tennis, although the event is not considered an official NCAA championship. Texas becomes the first team to reach the ITA National Team Indoor finals while making its first tournament appearance.
Texas found itself on the short end of a 1-0 deficit after suffering losses at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles. The Blue Devils extended their lead to 2-0 after Daniela Bercek defeated UT's Kendra Strohm (Tucson, Ariz.) in straight sets at first singles. However, Texas commenced a rally shortly thereafter to turn the momentum in its direction.
Texas senior Mia Marovic (Split, Croatia) put UT on the board with a 6-4, 6-4 win at No. 3 over Tara Iyer, and senior Kelly Baritot (Allison Park, Pa.) evened the tally at two with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Jenny Zika at fifth singles. Sophomore Courtney Zauft (San Antonio, Texas) gave Texas a short-lived 3-2 lead at No. 4 with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Duke's Melissa Mang.
After dropping the first set to 27th-ranked Jackie Carleton, UT junior Petra Dizdar (Split, Croatia) took a 6-5 lead in the second set before Carleton evened the set to force a tiebreaker at second singles. Carleton prevailed to even the match at three points apiece, setting the stage for Olson's heroics.
Olson captured the first set, 7-5, before engaging in a second-set tiebreak with Duke's Kristin Cargill. After Olson failed to convert a match point in the tiebreak after clipping the net on a forehand, Cargill regrouped and blanked Olson the rest of the way to force a third set. Olson made amends and finished the match in dominant fashion, winning the last set by a 6-1 count to give Texas the victory and push the Longhorns into the finals.
"The level of tennis from both sides was superb today," said UT coach Patty Fendick-McCain. "We had great efforts throughout the lineup, but our ladies at positions three through six were just fantastic!"
Fendick-McCain will take on a familiar opponent Sunday in the form of her alma mater, Stanford. The Cardinal enter Sunday's match with a 61-match win streak and have won the last two ITA National Team Indoor Championships. First serve is set for 11 a.m. CST at the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.
No. 15 Texas 4, No. 13 Duke 3
1. No. 31 Marovic/Strohm (UT) vs. No. 10 Bercek/Robinson (DU) - DNF
2. Carleton/Cargill (DU) def. Dizdar/Milic (UT) - 8-1
3. No. 41 Zika/Mang (DU) def. Baritot/Zauft (UT) - 8-5
1. No. 6 Daniela Bercek (DU) def. No. 55 Kendra Strohm (UT) - 6-1, 6-0
2. No. 27 Jackie Carleton (DU) def. Petra Dizdar (UT) - 6-2, 7-6 (5)
3. Mia Marovic (UT) def. Tara Iyer (DU) - 6-4, 6-4
4. Courtney Zauft (UT) def. Melissa Mang (DU) - 6-3, 7-5
5. Kelly Baritot (UT) def. Jenny Zika (DU) - 7-5, 6-3
6. Ristine Olson (UT) def. Kristin Cargill (DU) - 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1