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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Badgers women’s tennis bounces back in University of Virginia ITA Kickoff Weekend

After suffering a 4-3 loss to Georgia Tech, the Badgers turned things around against Texas Tech in the University of Virginia ITA Kickoff Weekend.

The No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers women’s tennis team touched down in Charlottesville on Friday for the ITA Kickoff Weekend hosted by the University of Virginia. 

The Badgers entered the tournament with momentum, carrying in a 2-0 record after their back-to-back wins against James Madison and Northern Illinois the previous weekend. 

Friday began with a number of big matches against a talent-imbued Georgia Tech. 

The doubles portion saw duo Xinyu Cai and Kaja Jacobson take on the Yellow Jackets’ Given Roach and Scarlett Nicholson. The pair opened strong with two early points but fell after surrendering the next six. Cai and Jacobson ended the match with a 6-2 loss.  

In a desperate search for the doubles point, Wisconsin looked to juniors Taylor Cataldi and Ariel Johnson as well as No. 50 Alina Murhortova and Maria Sholokhova. Both duos seemed struck with misfortune, ending with a 6-2 loss and an unfinished 5-4 loss, respectively. 

Despite the apparent setback, the Badgers entered the singles portion of the day with newfound energy. 

Wisconsin opened the singles portion with a strong 3-1 lead over the Yellow Jackets. Mukhortova showcased her talents in a sweep over Bilchev 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, No. 87 Cai took care of Roach 6-3, 6-2. Taylor Cataldi followed suit and took down Cruz 6-3, 6-2. 

Yet, the misfortune seemed to carry over as Georgia Tech rallied behind from deficits in a string of close matches. No. 67 Sholokhova fell after losing 7-6 in the first set with a tiebreak score of (7-3) and second set 6-3. Johnson also dropped a close match, losing in a tiebreak in the third set  7-6 (9-7).

Former Yellow Jacket Rosie Garcia Gross traded games in the first set and forced a tiebreak against Georgia Tech’s Nicholson before suffering a 7-6 (7-5). The next set went similarly, where the players fell in a 6-6 checkmate before Garcia Gross suffered a 7-6 (11-9) defeat. 

Saturday’s matchup against Texas Tech was a different story. An executive switch by head coach Kelcy McKenna in doubles partners saw a pairing in Cai and freshman Ellison Reynoldson, which proved to be effective as they took down the Lady Raiders 6-3. 

The winning trend continued as Cataldi and Garcia Gross defeated Sherif and Lila 6-3, taking the doubles point with them.

In singles, Wisconsin proved successful in a tough fight. Murhortova showcased her talents as she battled Mariya Polischuk, upsetting the Raider in a 6-4, 6-3 defeat. Cataldi took down Sayfetdinova 6-4, 6-4 in an even matchup by forcing deuce upon deuce. 

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That isn’t to say that the Badgers suffered unfortunate losses. The team lost just two singles points throughout their matchups. A ranked matchup saw No. 67 Sholokova as she fought hard against No. 69 Tiglea, but the Raider ended up claiming both sets, 6-3, 6-4. The same occurred on court six, in which Garcia Gross suffered an unfortunate 6-1, 6-3 loss against Sherif.

With the overall match-up being a close 3-2, Texas Tech looked to Komac to secure a tie against Cai. However, the No. 87 ranked Badger took down the Raider in a close match that ended 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. Johnson’s nail-bitingly close match against Lila then retired in the third set.

Coming out of the tournament with a 3-1 season record, the Badgers will conclude their first road streak of the year at the University of Texas on Feb. 2. 

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