May 28, 2011
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STANFORD, CA – The dream season continues for Clemson’s Josipa Bek and Keri Wong, as they knocked off No. 2 overall seed Alex Cercone and Allie Will of Florida, 6-2, 7-5, on Saturday in Stanford, CA to advance to the Final Four of the NCAA Doubles Championships. The Tigers become just the second doubles team in school history to reach the National Semifinals in an NCAA individual event.
The time of the Semifinal match is yet to be determined, but fans can check ClemsonTigers.com for an update, and can watch the match at GoStanford.com. The Tigers will play Southern Cal’s Maria Sanchez and Kaitlyn Christian, the No. 3 overall seed in the tournament.
Will and Cercone had been 14-0 on the season and hold the nation’s No. 2 overall ranking. After defeating the same Tiger team in the NCAA Team Sweet 16 at the top flight, 8-6, the Tigers got revenge in knocking off the Gators in the individual tournament. Clemson’s duo is ranked sixth nationally, and is a national 5-8 seed in the tournament.
“We played a little different that we did,” said Bek, who won her 94th career doubles match. “Last time [in the Sweet 16] we didn’t finish, so we just tried to make some changes and not make the same mistakes we did last week, and put more balls in play, and it was working.”
The win kept the Tigers alive in the hunt for Clemson’s first doubles National Championship. The Tiger duo have had one of the best year’s of anyone in the country, as they have now reach the semifinals in each of the three collegiate tennis “Grand Slam” events, the ITA All-American, the ITA Indoors, and the NCAA Championships.
“I am excited that we have been able to succeed in each major tournament,” said Bek. “It’s a lot of communication, a lot of work, and a lot of practice.”
They are now 33-11 together, and are extending nearly every doubles wins record in the Clemson books. It was Bek’s 39th win of the season in doubles, and Wong’s 38th, ranking one and two, respectively in Clemson history for single-season doubles wins.
“We are just playing, we are just trying to enjoy ourselves,” explained Bek. “We are gaining confidence with each match, and learning after each match. No matter how well you play, you can still improve. Keri and I are learning where we can improve.
The Tiger tandem was in control in the first set, patiently setting one another up. Clemson jumped out to a 3-0 lead while scoring 12 of the first 14 points. Each team held the next five games, giving Clemson a 5-2 lead while Florida served. The gators were up 40-30, but Clemson fought back to bring it to deuce, and eventually took the game and the set, 6-2.
The second set was back-and forth with Clemson grabbing the 2-0 lead, before Florida rallied to break the Tigers for the first and second times in the match on the way to a 3-2 edge. Clemson answered back with a big break, and then held to take a 4-3 lead. Will then held, to know it, and Wong helped Clemson to four straight points on her serve, pushing Florida to the brink at 5-4.
Cercone led Florida to a 30-0 lead before Clemson got one back, the Gators took the next two points to tie the set score at 5-5. It was Bek’s turn to serve, and Clemson jumped to a 30-0 lead after a beautiful volley from Wong hit just inside the sideline. Cercone hit the next ball into the net, and Clemson had a 40-0 advantage. Cercone’s next offer off Bek’s serve was long, and the Tigers again held to take a 6-5 lead.
Clemson took the first point of the 12th game after Cercone’s smash missed wide after Wong kept a ball alive that looked like it might end the point. Will then hit Bek’s service return intot he net as Clemson took a 0-30 lead. Wong’s next offer hit the net, but Bek rebounded to get the next point after a series of tremendous volleys, giving Clemson double match point. Bek then hit the next ball at Cercone’s feet at the net, and she couldn’t handle it, clinch the 6-2, 7-5 win for the Tigers.
The Tigers are just two wins away from a National Championship, and have earned it with three straight wins over doubles teams from the SEC.
“I think we always have a chance, and we believe in each other, and the chance is there. We want to prove that we belong as the top doubles team in the nation. We will go out and play every point to our best like we do every match.”
Clemson’s 2011 NCAA Doubles Championships ResultsTaube Tennis Center – Stanford, CA
May 26, 2011 First Round – Stadium Court 3 (5-8) #6 Bek Wong (CU) def. #38 Boxx/Guthrie (MISS), 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
May 27, 2011 Round of 16 – Stadium Court 6 (5-8) #6 Bek/Wong (CU) def. #18 Pluskota/Boren (TENN), 6-1, 6-7(8), 7-6(1)
May 28, 2011 Quarterfinals – Stadium Court 6 (5-8) #6 Bek/Wong (CU) def. (2) #2 Cercone/Will (FLA), 6-2, 7-5
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