May 15, 2012
WHAT: After successfully navigating through the NCAA first and second rounds, eleventh-seeded Texas (19-7) will take on sixth-seeded host Georgia (23-4) in the round of 16 at the NCAA Championship.
2012 NCAA Championship Schedule
All remaining rounds at Dan Magill Tennis Complex - Athens, Ga.
Thursday, May 17 (Round of 16)
(11) Texas (19-7) vs. (6) Georgia (23-4) - 3 p.m. CT
Saturday, May 19 (Quarterfinals)
(11) Texas or (6) Georgia vs. (3) Duke or (14) Virginia - 3 p.m. CT
Monday, May 21 (Semifinals) - Noon CT
Tuesday, May 22 (Finals) - Noon CT
LIVE SCORING: Available at GeorgiaDogs.com
ITA RANKINGS UPDATE
38. Aeriel Ellis (Texas)
67. Krista Damico (Texas)
55. Lina Padegimaite/Noel Scott (UT)
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
Texas is making its 30th appearance at the NCAA Championship. A two-time NCAA champion, UT holds a 44-27 (.620) overall record in the event. The Longhorns captured NCAA team titles in 1993 and 1995. UT finished as the NCAA runner-up in 1992 and 2005 and made additional NCAA semifinals appearances in 1990, 1994 and 1997.
Texas defeated South Florida in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Championship before falling to host Miami (Fla.) in the round of 32. UT reached the NCAA Championship the last time the event was held in Athens in 2010 and was eliminated in the round of 16.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Texas (19-7) punched its ticket to Athens with a pair of victories over Wichita State and Nebraska in the tournament's opening rounds in Austin. The Longhorns opened the championship with a 4-0 victory over Wichita State (May 11). UT claimed the doubles point and added singles wins from Lina Padegimaite, Krista Damico and Cierra Gaytan-Leach in the victory.
Texas followed with a 4-2 win over 17th-ranked Nebraska (May 12). The Horns claimed a tightly-contested doubles point and collected singles wins from Ellis, Padegimaite and Gaytan-Leach. It marked the third consecutive match clinched by Gaytan-Leach. UT reached the NCAA Championship round of 16 for the third time in the last five seasons (2008, 2010, 2012).
Texas earned the Big 12 Conference's automatic bid into the tournament by way of its 4-2 victory over host Texas A&M in the finals of the Big 12 Championship. The Longhorns opened the Big 12 Championship in the quarterfinals with a 4-1 win over Oklahoma State, who defeated the Horns just five days earlier. Texas met Big 12 regular season champion Texas Tech in the semifinals and claimed a 4-1 win over the top-seeded Lady Raiders.
LONGHORNS CRACK THE ITA TOP-10
Texas vaulted six spots into the No. 9 slot in the Feb. 28 release of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) women's college tennis team poll. The Longhorns cracked the top-10 in the ITA team poll for the first time in six seasons, when they reached No. 3 on Feb. 22, 2006.
Texas moved up to No. 8 in the March 13 poll before dropping back to No. 9 in the March 20 release of the team rankings. The Horns ranked 13th in the April 10 poll but vaulted to a season-high No. 6 in the ITA team rankings on April 17. Texas dropped back to No. 13 the following week before returning to No. 10 in the poll released prior to the NCAA Championship.
WINNING THE HARD WAY
Under seventh-year head coach Patty Fendick-McCain, the Longhorns hold a 19-7 mark in dual-match play. Sixteen of the 26 matches have been played against opponents ranked no lower than No. 24 in the ITA team poll at the time of the match. Texas holds an 11-5 mark in those matches.
Texas has played against eight of the 15 other teams that make up the round of 16 in Athens. The Horns hold a 4-4 mark against those teams, with victories against 12th-seeded Baylor, 13th-seeded Northwestern, seventh-seeded North Carolina and 15th-seeded Michigan
Texas opened the season with a 4-3 win over No. 4 North Carolina on a neutral site at the USTA's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the annual U.S. Open. The Longhorns ventured away from home again the following weekend when they participated in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend event. Texas edged No. 23 Alabama by a 4-3 count before toppling 17th-ranked Vanderbilt, the event host, by a 4-1 count.
Two weeks later, Texas added a 4-3 win over No. 15 Clemson at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va. On March 2, in just their first home match of the season, the Longhorns overpowered No. 8 Northwestern from the start and emerged with a 6-1 victory over the Wildcats.
UT added another win over a top-20 opponent on March 11 when it defeated No. 16 Michigan by a 4-2 count in Austin. Additionally, four of Texas' seven defeats have come against ITA top-10 foes - No. 3 USC, No. 4 Georgia, No. 6 Virginia and No. 10 Miami - with three of the matches played at neutral sites.
YOUTH IS SERVED
Texas is benefiting not only from the experience of Aeriel Ellis and Krista Damico but also from the results of its underclassmen. In fact, UT's freshmen and sophomores have accounted for 67 of the Horns' 92 (73%) dual-match singles wins.
Freshman Lina Padegimaite holds a 22-4 dual-match record, which features a win over Georgia's 80th-ranked Kate Fuller at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. Gaytan-Leach owns 17 dual-match victories. She defeated North Carolina's 76th-ranked Caroline Price at fourth singles in UT's 4-3 win over the fourth-ranked Tar Heels.
Gaytan-Leach also features wins over Clemson's Romy Koelzer and Northwestern's Linda Abu Mushrefova. Begley is enjoying a tremendous sophomore season with a 21-2 dual-match record and a 34-7 overall singles record.
Freshman Noel Scott boasts 16 overall singles victories in her freshman season, and her two of her six dual-match victories helped the Horns qualify for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. In January, Scott posted a 6-2, 6-4 win over Alabama's 40th-ranked Alexa Guarachi before defeating Vanderbilt's 113th-ranked Lauren Mira, 6-0, 6-2.
ELLIS EARNS THIRD CONSECUTIVE NCAA SINGLES BERTH
Texas junior All-American Aeriel Ellis has earned a third consecutive berth to compete in the 64-player singles draw at the NCAA Championship. Ellis has qualified to compete in all nine national championship events contested during her three seasons as a Longhorn. The other two national championship events, which are administered by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), are the ITA All-American Championships and the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.
Ellis, who has held down the No. 1 singles slot in the Texas dual-match lineup since her freshman season, heads to Athens with an 18-16 overall record. Ellis posted a 9-6 mark in fall tournament play that included a win over Duke's Beatrice Capra, the nation's second-ranked player.
Ellis opened the dual-match season with a win over North Carolina's 31st-ranked Lauren McHale that helped Texas to a 4-3 victory over the fourth-ranked Tar Heels in New York City. Ellis added a win over Georgia's sixth-ranked Chelsey Gullickson at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in February. Ellis also notched victories over Northwestern's 19th-ranked Kate Turvy and Michigan's 12th-ranked Emina Bektas during UT's dual-match season.
Last season as a sophomore, Ellis became UT's first ITA All-American since 1999 when she advanced to the round of 16 at the NCAA Championship with wins over Duke's Nadine Fahoum and Washington's Denise Dy. Ellis registered her top finish at a national championship event as a sophomore at the 2010 ITA National Indoor Championship, where she reached the semifinals.
TEXAS TRIO CLAIMS BIG 12 INDIVIDUAL TITLES
Texas sophomores Cierra Gaytan-Leach and Elizabeth Begley and freshman Lina Padegimaite earned Big 12 Conference individual tennis titles for finishing with the top records at their respective positions in conference play. Texas led the league with three Big 12 singles titles. It marked the third year (previously in 2002 and 2009) that the Horns have won three Big 12 singles titles.
Gaytan-Leach earned the Big 12 title at No. 4 singles after posting a 7-2 mark in league matches. The Californian posted a 3-1 record at No. 3 singles and a 4-1 mark at No. 4 singles. She earned the league title with a 7-2 record at No. 4 singles given that she won the three additional matches at No. 3 singles. Gaytan-Leach went on to clinch UT's wins over Oklahoma State and Texas A&M at the Big 12 Championship.
Padegimaite won the Big 12 title at No. 5 singles by way of her 5-0 record at No. 5 singles and her 4-0 mark at No. 4 singles. The Lithuanian now sports an impressive 22-4 dual-match record. Padegimaite is the first UT freshman to go undefeated through a full schedule of league play since Sarah Lancaster in 2007. Padegimaite added wins against Texas Tech and Texas A&M at the Big 12 Championship. She won 23 of 25 sets played against conference foes this season.
Begley, like Padegimaite, also finished with a perfect mark in conference play at 9-0, and she won all 24 sets against conference foes in the regular season and the postseason. Begley won the Big 12 title at No. 6 singles by way of her 4-0 mark at No. 5 singles and her 5-0 record at No. 6 singles. She sports a 31-7 overall singles record this season.
Begley is enjoying a breakthrough sophomore season in which she has accumulated 31 singles wins. Begley is the first Longhorn to total 30 singles wins or more since Aeriel Ellis two seasons ago. Begley holds a 34-7 overall singles record and a 21-2 mark in dual matches.
LONGHORNS TRIO EARNS ALL-BIG 12 HONORS
The Big 12 Conference announced May 8 the selections of Texas' Aeriel Ellis, Krista Damico, Lina Padegimaite and Noel Scott to the 2012 All-Big 12 Women's Tennis Team in voting conducted by the league's head coaches. Padegimaite was selected as the league's Freshman of the Year while earning All-Big 12 doubles honors alongside Scott. Ellis and Damico earned All-Big 12 singles honors.
Padegimaite, who became UT's fourth Big 12 Freshman of the Year and its first since Aeriel Ellis in 2010, won the Big 12 title at No. 5 singles by way of her 5-0 record at No. 5 singles and her 4-0 mark at No. 4 singles. Padegimaite and Scott hold an 11-10 overall doubles record, including a 5-3 mark in conference play.
Damico earned All-Big 12 honors after posting a 22-10 overall singles record and a 15-5 mark in dual-match play. Damico, who split time with Ellis at the Nos. 1 and 2 singles positions, finished with a 5-4 mark in conference play. Damico also earned All-Big 12 singles honors in 2010.
Ellis, now a three-time All-Big 12 singles selection, played a key role in the Horns' run to the Big 12 tournament title last month in College Station. The Californian posted a pair of straight-set wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to help Texas reach the finals at the Big 12 Championship.
TEXAS TOPS TEXAS A&M TO CLAIM BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Cierra Gaytan-Leach punctuated a come-from-behind, three-set win with a service ace, as fourth-seeded Texas collected the doubles point and three singles wins to seal a 4-2 win over third-seeded host Texas A&M in the finals of the 2012 Big 12 Championship on the Aggies' home courts.
Texas claimed its eighth Big 12 Championship - its first since 2005 - and the first for seventh-year head coach Patty Fendick-McCain, who has led the Horns to the finals of the Big 12 Championship in each of her seven seasons in Austin. Texas became just the second fourth-seeded team to win the Big 12 Championship. Oklahoma State was the last No. 4 seed to win the event in 2003.
Texas sophomore Elizabeth Begley was selected as the Big 12 Championship's Most Outstanding Performer after going 3-0 in singles play without dropping a set. The Houston native completed the regular season with a 9-0 mark against conference foes and improved that mark to 12-0 with her victories at the Big 12 Championship over Oklahoma State's Isabela Miro, Texas Tech's Nikki Sanders and Texas A&M's Sheri Olivier.
The Horns won matches at the first and second doubles matches to assume a 1-0 lead before adding wins from Begley, freshman Lina Padegimaite and the clincher from Gaytan-Leach to seal the victory.
GAYTAN-LEACH TABBED BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The Big 12 Conference selected Texas sophomore Cierra Gaytan-Leach as the league's women's tennis player of the week on April 16 after the Californian clinched the 13th-ranked Longhorns' weekend victories over No. 12 Baylor and No. 22 Texas Tech.
In Saturday's match against Baylor, with the team score knotted at three points apiece, Gaytan-Leach ended the three-match winning streak of Baylor's Ema Burgic and won by a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 count to give Texas a 4-3 win over the Bears.
On Sunday against Texas Tech - UT's then-undefeated counterpart atop the conference standings - Gaytan-Leach put away the Texas victory by rallying for a 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 win over the Lady Raiders' Caroline Starck to give Texas an insurmountable 4-2 lead, which proved to be the winning margin after the doubles session was subsequently canceled due to rain.
Notably, Gaytan-Leach rallied from a 3-0 third-set deficit and won six of the final seven games in the set to preserve her second match-clinching victory in as many days. Gaytan-Leach's victory snapped Starck's eight-match winning streak, which dated back to March 1.
DAMICO NAMED BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The Big 12 Conference selected Texas' Krista Damico as the league's women's tennis player of the week on March 19 after the senior registered a victory over an ITA top-20 opponent and two additional singles victories against USC, Iowa State and Missouri.
Damico opened her productive week with a come-from-behind three-set victory (0-6, 6-3, 6-4) over USC's 18th-ranked Danielle Lao on March 14 in the Horns' 4-3 defeat to the fourth-ranked Trojans. Damico notched her ninth and 10th consecutive victories in Texas' weekend victories at Iowa State and Missouri.
Damico helped the Horns jump out to a 2-0 mark in conference play with wins over Iowa State's Maria Macedo (6-4, 6-3) and Missouri's Nina Pantic (7-6, 6-2). She added a pair of doubles wins alongside Cierra Gaytan-Leach at No. 2 doubles against Iowa State and Missouri.
Damico finished the regular season with a 14-5 singles record. Eight of the 14 victories came against ranked opponents.