To the Sweet 16: Auburn outlasts Georgia Tech in second-round thriller

AUBURN, Ala. – No. 14 Auburn women’s tennis came through with a comeback for the ages, rallying from a 3-1 deficit with wins on all three remaining courts to secure a 4-3 win over No. 33 Georgia Tech, clinching a spot in the NCAA Round of 16 for the third time in program history.

Senior yu chen provided the clinching win for the Tigers (22-5), fighting back from dropping her first set on court five to winning the final two, finishing off the Auburn comeback with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Rosie Garcia Gross.

“We earned every inch that match we just played!” auburn head coach Caroline Lilley said. “Georgia Tech really punched is in the mouth in doubles, setting a tone early that they were going to make our life difficult. The response from our team in singles, across the board, was incredible to witness.

“The way we handled our moments, executing points while running our patterns, served as the difference maker. We are proud of our team, proud of the growth, and thrilled to be on this journey with them.”

With the win, Auburn advanced to the NCAA Super Regional, which serves as the Round of 16. The Tigers will face No. 3 Texas next Friday in Austin, Texas, with first serve scheduled for noon at the Texas Tennis Center.

The comeback came from courts 3-5 after the Yellow Jackets (15-11) pulled ahead to a 3-1 lead. Junior Carolyn Ansariranked No. 114, got the Tigers going down the stretch, clinching her match in a second-set tiebreaker over 90th-ranked Kylie Bilchev, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

About the same time, grad student george axon picked up a third-set break to move into position to finish off a win of her own. After dropping the second set, Axon came through in the third for a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 win over Mahak Jain to tie the team match at 3-all, setting up Chen’s clinching win.

Sophomore Ariana Arsèneaultat No. 75 nationally, ran her singles winning streak to six in a row as she got the Tigers on the board with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Ava Hrastar at the second singles spot to tie the match 1-1 .

Tech would move ahead 3-1 with three-set wins at 1 and 6. Sophomore adeline flach fought back after dropping her first set 6-0 to push the match to a third, then fought off Tech’s Gia Cohen as long as she could in the final set before ultimately falling 6-0, 3-6, 6-4. #34 Selin Ovunc went the distance with No. 22 Carol Lee, winning the first set but dropping the final two in a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 loss at the top spot.

In doubles, Tech was strong in all phases. The 36th-ranked team of Bilchev and Hraster downed Axon and Flach, 6-0, to start things off. Auburn fought back from early deficits on the other two courts to put themselves in position for a comeback, but Ansari and Madeline Meredith came up short to Cohen and Marsh 6-4 as the Jackets clinched the point. In a battle of top-10 teams, Auburn’s Ovunc and Arseneault were tied 5-5 with Tech’s Lee and Kate Sharabura when play was halted.

Auburn will play in the round of 16 for the third time in program history; the Tigers also advanced in 2016 and 2017, which were also the last two times Auburn hosted the first two rounds.

With today’s win, Auburn finished the 2022 season unbeaten at home (14-0), and Auburn is now 6-0 all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament.

For the latest on Auburn women’s tennis, follow @AuburnWTennis on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

#14 Auburn 4, #33 Georgia Tech 3

Singles

1. #22 Carol Lee (GT) def. #3. 4 Selin Ovunc (AU), 1-6, 6-2, 6-3
2. #75 Ariana Arsèneault (AU) def. Ava Hrastar (GT), 7-5, 6-2
3. #114 Carolyn Ansari (AU) def. #90 Kylie Bilchev (GT), 6-4, 7-6 (6)
Four. george axon (AU) def. Mahak Jain (GT), 6-4, 2-6, 6-2
5. yu chen (AU) def. Rosie Garcia Gross (GT), 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
6. Gia Cohen (GT) def. adeline flach (AU), 6-0, 3-6, 6-4
Order of finish: 2, 6, 1, 3, 4, 5

Doubles

1. #9 Ovunc/Arseneault (AU) vs. #4 Lee/Sharabura (GT), 5-5 unfinished
2. #36 Bilchev/Hrastar (GT) def. Axon/Flach (AU), 6-0
3. Cohen/Marsh (GT) def. Meredith/Ansari (AU), 6-4
Order of finish: 2, 3

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