Maria Kalashnikova clinches OU victory over No. 30 Alabama as Sooners remain undefeated.
Feb. 6, 2010
NORMAN, Okla.— The University of Oklahoma women’s tennis team remains unbeaten as the Sooners upset No. 30 Alabama, 4-3, Saturday at the Gregg Wadley Indoor Tennis Pavilion.
OU (4-0, 0-0 Big 12) came from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Crimson Tide in one of the biggest upsets in program history, and OU’s biggest upset under head coach David Mullins.
The Sooners claimed the early lead, winning the doubles point in their fourth-straight match after two victories at the No. 2 and 3 positions.
“We started the match today like we finished it,” Mullins said. “We started with a lot of energy. The doubles point was phenomenal. We started much better than we did against North Texas. We knew that was going to be important.”
Tara Eckel and Maria Kalashnikova narrowly missed a sweep of Alabama’s Paulina Bigos and Antonio Foehse, defeating the duo at the No. 2 spot, 8-1.
Katelyn Connelly and Marie-Pier Huet won six-straight games to start off the set, before giving up three games to Alabama. The Sooner duo went on to win, 8-3, clinching the doubles point for OU.
“We continued to play well in singles,” Mullins said. “We started well on a lot of courts but they came back strong like we expected them to.” In singles, Guarachi earned Alabama’s first point, tying the team score at 1-1. Guarachi, ranked No. 82 nationally in singles, defeated Huet at the No. 2 spot, 6-4, 6-2.
Alabama claimed the next two singles points at the No. 4 and No. 1 positions to take a 3-1 lead over the Sooners. Meritt Emery of Alabama took down Tsertsvadze at the No. 4 spot, 6-2, 7-5, while Courtney McLane defeated No. 56 ranked Constantinescu at the No. 1 spot, 6-3, 7-6(6).
OU tied the score at 3-3 following two wins from Eckel and Kristina Radan. Radan defeated Alabama’s Antonio Foeshe at the No. 5 spot, 6-4, 7-5, while Eckel topped Alice Tunaru at the No. 6 spot, 6-4, 6-4.
“All the credit goes to Tina (Kristina Radan) and Maria (Kalashnikova),” Mullins said. “Tina could have easily lost that second set but she kept her composure. She played some great tennis, probably her best tennis, towards the end of that match.”
Kalashnikova clinched the OU victory at the No. 3 spot, defeating Paulina Bigos of Alabama, 6-4, 6-2. Kalashnikova claimed the first four game points in the first set, but lost the first set following a 6-0 rally from Bigos. Kalashnikova came back to win the second set, 6-1, to force the tiebreaker secured the OU victory.
“Maria was up 4-0 in the first set, lost that set and then came back and found a way to win,” Mullins said. “That was phenomenal.”
The Sooners upset the Crimson Tide despite losses from key players, including reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, Ana-Maria Constantinescu.
“We rely a lot on Ana-Maria (Constantinescu),” Mullins said. “She lost her singles and doubles today and we still managed to win. That shows how much the rest of the team has improved and come along. We can get points from anywhere, we can win one through six now. It takes some pressure of Ana, and takes pressure of the team as well.”
The Sooners look to remain unbeaten as they take on Penn State on Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. The match will be held at the Headington Family Tennis Center in Norman.
Oklahoma 4, Alabama 3
1. McLane/Guarachi (BAMA) def. #39 Constantinescu/Tsertsvadze (OU), 8-3
2. Eckel/Kalashnikova (OU) def. Bigos/Foehse (BAMA), 8-1
3. Connelly/Huet (OU) def. Tunaru/Emery (BAMA), 8-3
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1
1. Courtney McLane (BAMA) def. #56 Ana-Maria Constantinescu (OU), 6-3, 7-6(6)
2. #82 Alexa Guarachi (BAMA) def. Marie-Pier Huet (OU), 6-4, 6-2
3. Maria Kalashnikova (OU) def. Paulina Bigos (BAMA), 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
4. Meritt Emery (BAMA) def. Teona Tsertsvadze (OU), 6-2, 7-5
5. Kristina Radan (OU) def. Antonio Foehse (BAMA), 6-4, 7-5
6. Tara Eckel (OU) def. Alice Tunaru (BAMA), 6-4, 6-4
Order of Finish: 2, 4, 1, 6, 5, 3