Oglethorpe Women's Tennis Bounces Back to Knock off Berry, Advances to First SAA Semifinals

The No. 3 seed Oglethorpe women's tennis team fell behind No. 6 seed Berry 2-1 after doubles Friday afternoon in their first round SAA Tournament matchup at Burns Park Tennis Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas, but they rallied in a big way, winning four of the five finished singles matches to turn the tables and defeat the Vikings 6-3. The victory means that the Stormy Petrels advance to their first-ever SAA semifinal, and win a conference tournament match for the first time since the first round of the 2012 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Tournament. In addition, it's the first time they've reached a conference semifinal since the 1995 SCAC Tournament.

The dual match was left to three extremely tight individual matches, with the winner of two of the three advancing to the semifinals. With the overall score tied 3-3, sophomore Delaney Abood found herself in a pair of tiebreakers in the No. 6 singles match. She won each of them to take her match in straight sets. She won the first 7-5 after finding herself down 5-2 in the first set, then came back with a 7-2 victory in the second-set tiebreaker, bringing the Petrels to the brink of clinching the dual match.

Senior Ingrid Wilcox was involved in the No. 5 match and fell 6-2 in the first set. She found herself fighting for her life in a second-set tiebreaker, but came away with a huge victory, outlasting her opponent 9-7 to set up a decisive third set after being down five match points in that tiebreak. She asserted herself in the all-important third set, winning it 6-3 to clinch the victory for the Petrels.

After falling behind going into singles, the Petrels got a 6-0, 6-1 victory from sophomore Shannon Cruz at No. 3 singles to tie the match at 2-2, but Berry responded by taking the lead back with a 6-4, 6-1 triumph at No. 2 against freshman Hannah Dattilo. However, the Petrels earned a huge tiebreaker victory from junior Caroline Johnson to clinch the No. 1 match. After taking the first set 6-4, Johnson came away victorious in the second-set tiebreaker, winning it 7-3 and tying the overall score 3-3. 

In doubles, the Petrels got an 8-4 win from the No. 2 tandem of Cruz and freshman Taylor Cranford. However, Johnson and Dattilo fell 8-6 at No. 1, then Wilcox and junior Halley Sickling came out on the wrong side of a tight, 8-6 tiebreaker at No. 3. Those two defeats served to set the table for the drama to come in the singles competition, though.

"This was an outstanding victory!" said Oglethorpe head coach Peter Howell. "We dug ourselves a bit of a hole in doubles, but showed a huge amount of fight and resilience to come back in singles and take the match back from Berry. We had Ingrid coming back after being down five match points in the second-set tiebreaker, and Delaney coming back from being down 5-2 in the first set, and if we lose both of those matches, we lose on the day. We've got a tough matchup against Centre tomorrow to look forward to, but I'm extremely proud of the fight the girls showed today."

The Petrels will now take on the No. 2 seed Centre Colonels Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern, after they quickly dispatched seventh-seeded Hendrix 5-0 in Friday's opening round. In the regular season meeting between the two teams, Centre blanked Oglethorpe 6-0 in Danville, Kentucky, in early April. The dual match was closer than the final score would indicate, though, with several individual matches coming down to the wire.