LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Texas Tech women's tennis team pulled out a big win on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, defeating San Diego, 4-0, to advance to Saturday's second round. The Lady Raiders will face off with UCLA on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT for a spot in the Sweet 16.
The match was closer than the score looked, as the Lady Raiders came up on top in a tight doubles point before moving onto singles where all but one match went to three sets. In all, the match lasted just over three hours with Texas Tech moving on to Saturday's meeting with the host Bruins.
"It was a crazy match because I feel like we got so amped up finishing doubles and you look across the board and (San Diego) really started and got on top of us," head coach Todd Petty said. "That's where I'm most proud of this group. It's the first team all season that I've seen at all six positions us be able to take a blow and come back.
"This time of year, everybody's going to give their best effort and their best punch and it's about how you respond to it. In every position we did that really well today, and we're going to need that tomorrow against one of the favorites to win the NCAA Tournament on their court with their fans. It's a tough hill to climb but if you can win a match like this in this fashion, you get nothing but momentum from it. We can take the chains off, play free and see where the chips land. We may not have the same talent as UCLA but I think we can compete with them with discipline and other things that we provide."
The Lady Raiders grinded out a hard-fought doubles point to open the day, battling it out with the Toreros for almost an hour before picking up the 1-0 advantage. Nell Miller and Metka Komac earned the first win of the match, defeating San Diego's Elisabeth Andryukhova and Kati Kukaras, 6-2, on court three to strike first and put Tech a win away from the early lead.
After the Toreros picked up a tiebreak win on one, the Lady Raiders were able to clinch the point as Olivia Peet and Margarita Skriabina came up clutch on court two, holding off Abigail Desiatnikov and Jordyn McBride in a 7-5 tiebreaker.
"I think it was an exchange of momentum and we stole it at the right time at the end," Petty said. "If you look at NCAA Tournament matches, it's probably well above 85 or 90 percent of teams that win the doubles point end up winning the dual match. It's that pivotal because everybody's so close at this stage of the season. It was a huge lift to start singles with a lead, for sure."
Skriabina made the score 2-0 after she picked up a big, straight-set win on court two. She knocked off Elizabeth Goldsmith, 6-4, 6-3, to move to 17-1 in dual matches this season. It was only her second match in the No. 2 spot this year, and pushed her record at that position to 3-0.
On courts five and six, Olivia Peet and Metka Komac both showed poise in bouncing back from first-set losses to take their matches in what would be the final two points the Lady Raiders needed to clinch the win.
Komac got off the court first, defeating San Diego's Kati Kukaras, 0-6, 6-2, 6-2 to push the Texas Tech advantage to 3-0. The freshman has been outstanding down the final stretch of the season, winning six of her last eight matches. Komac is now 13-6 overall on the year.
It was Peet that clinched the victory for Texas Tech, knocking off Victoria Kalaitzis, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2, to quell any chances of a Torero comeback. The sophomore is now 13-6 overall this season.
As the match was clinched in favor of the Lady Raiders, Lisa Mays was in a back-and-forth battle in her third set with No. 48 Solymar Colling on court one, while Kaitlin Staines had just battled back from a 4-1 deficit on court two to draw even with Jordyn McBride at 5-5 in the third set. Nell Miller led, 1-0, in her third set after winning the second, 6-3.