Falcon Clinches Women's Tennis Win, 4-1; Lady'Backs Next

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
Falcon Clinches Women's Tennis Win, 4-1; Lady'Backs Next

AUBURN, Ala. — The LSU women’s tennis team advanced past a feisty Alabama, 4-1, in the first round of the SEC Tournament at the City of Auburn/Auburn University Yarbrough Tennis Center on Thursday.

“It was a great win because Alabama is much improved from earlier in the year,” LSU head coach Tony Minnis said. “That was a hard-fought match, and I was pleased that our kids stepped up and found a way to get it done.”

In doubles, 22nd-ranked Megan Falcon and Mykala Hedberg finished first on court 1. The Lady Tiger tandem quickly went up 3-0, but Alabama’s Andrea Brenes and Paulina Bigos fought back to make it 3-2. The two teams traded games to make it 5-4 LSU, but Falcon and Hedberg ran away with the next three games to win, 8-4.

Alabama’s Tiffany Welcher and Meritt Emery evened the doubles match by beating Hannah Robinson and Tiffany Tucker, 8-5, on court 2. The match was tied at 4-all, but Welcher and Emery won three of the next four games to win the match.

Not even one minute after court 2 finished, LSU (14-8, 6-5 SEC) clinched the doubles point on court 3 when Nicole Kantor and Staten Spencer pulled away to beat Shelley Godwin and Bianca Svensson, 8-4. LSU was up 5-4, and Kantor and Spencer rolled off the next three games to clinch the point and put LSU up 1-0.

Alabama (6-15, 2-9 SEC) struck first in singles on court 5 when Godwin beat Tucker, 6-3, 6-1.

Hedberg made it 2-1 Lady Tigers by beating Bigos in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5. In the second set Hedberg was up 5-3, but Bigos won the next two games to get back on serve at 5-all. However, Hedberg broke back and held serve to claim the victory.

Kantor, the reigning SEC Player of the Week, put LSU up 3-1 with a dominant, 6-4, 6-0 victory over Emery on court 4.

No. 12 Falcon clinched the match for LSU on court 1 with a hard-fought win over Welcher, 7-6(2), 7-5. In the first set, Falcon was down 3-1 before battling back to win in a tiebreaker. In the second set, Falcon was down 5-4 before she reeled off the last three games to clinch the match.

When Falcon clinched, the two remaining matches were called because in the SEC Tournament a match is over once one team clinches victory.

On court 3, Robinson was one game away from knocking off Alice Tunaru after taking a tough, first-set tiebreaker, 7-6 (4), 5-3. On court 6, Spencer and Brenes traded sets as Spencer won the first, 6-2 before falling in the second, 7-5. In the third set, Spencer was up 2-0 when Falcon clinched on court 1.

“We have an opportunity now to get after Arkansas again,” Minnis said. “We know they are going to be ready for us, so we just have to come out and play with the same tenacity we played with against them last week.”

LSU will face 16th-ranked and No. 3 seed Arkansas in the quarterfinals at 10 a.m. CT on Friday. SEC West champion Arkansas will be looking for revenge as the Lady Tigers defeated the Lady’Backs, 5-2, last week in Baton Rouge.

SEC Tournament First Round
#27 LSU 4, Alabama 1
April 17, 2008 at Auburn, Ala.

Singles competition:
1. #12 Megan Falcon (LSU) def. Tiffany Welcher (UA) 7-6(2), 7-5
2. Mykala Hedberg (LSU) def. Paulina Bigos (UA) 6-1, 7-5
3. Hannah Robinson (LSU) led Alice Tunaru (UA) 7-6(4), 5-3 unfinished
4. Nicole Kantor (LSU) def. Meritt Emery (UA) 6-4, 6-0
5. Shelley Godwin (UA) def. Tiffany Tucker (LSU) 6-3, 6-1
6. Staten Spencer (LSU) led Andrea Brenes (UA) 6-2, 5-7, 2-0 unfinished

Doubles competition:
1. #22 Megan Falcon/Mykala Hedberg (LSU) def. Andrea Brenes/Paulina Bigos (UA) 8-4
2. Tiffany Welcher/Meritt Emery (UA) def. Hannah Robison/Tiffany Tucker (LSU) 8-5
3. Nicole Kantor/Staten Spencer (LSU) def. Shelley Godwin/Bianca Svensson (UA) 8-4

Match Notes:
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (5,2,4,1)

2008 SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament
April 17-20, 2008
Auburn, Ala. (Yarborugh Tennis Center)

First Round
Thursday, April 17
Match 1: #7 Kentucky def. #10 Ole Miss, 4-0
Match 2: #6 LSU def. #11 Alabama, 4-1
Match 3: #8 Auburn def. #9 South Carolina, 4-0
Match 4: #5 Tennessee def. #12 Mississippi State, 4-0

Friday, April 18
Match 5: #7 Kentucky vs. #2 Georgia, 10 a.m.
Match 6: #6 LSU vs. #3 Arkansas, 10 a.m.
Match 7: #8 Auburn vs. #1 Florida, 2 p.m.
Match 8: #5 Tennessee vs. #4 Vanderbilt, 2 p.m.

Saturday, April 19
Match 9: Match 5 winner vs. Match 6 winner, 10 a.m.
Match 10: Match 7 winner vs. Match 8 winner, 2 p.m.

Sunday, April 20
Match 11: Match 9 winner vs. Match 10 winner, noon