May 27, 2011
STANFORD, CA – Clemson juniors Josipa Bek and Keri Wong survived and advanced into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Doubles Championships in Stanford, CA on Friday night. The Tiger duo, a 5-8 seed in the tournament, outlasted 18th-ranked Brynn Boren and Natalie Pluskota of Tennessee, 6-1, 6-7(8), 7-6(1), to win their 32nd match of the year together.
The Tigers advance to take on the second-seeded Florida duo of Allie Will and Alex Cercone on Saturday at 5:30 pm eastern. The Gators topped the Arkansas team of Anouk Tigu and Claudine Paulson in the Round of 16, 6-2, 6-4. Bek and Wong met each of these tandems in the team NCAA Tournament, defeating the Arkansas duo, 8-2, and falling to the Florida team, 8-6. Bek and Wong are 2-2 against Florida doubles teams this season, but 0-1 against this combination.
“I think that it will be different because we have a little different look,” said Wong. “I’m not sure how it will totally affect them. We need to stay more aggressive when we’re ahead, because we let them back in it when we got ahead today.”
Bek and Wong are the fourth team in school history to reach the final eight, and the first since Bek and Ina Hadziselimovic reached in 2009, Bek’s freshman season. She now has a 5-2 career mark in the NCAA Doubles Tournament. Teams play best-of-three set matches, as opposed to the pro-set format of a dual match.
A day after knocking off a team from the SEC in Mississippi’s Kristie Boxx and Abby Guthrie, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, on Thursday, the Tigers again needed three sets to advance. In this match, the Tigers had two match points in the second set, but Tennessee fought them off to extend the match. The Tigers then fought off a quick start in the third set, and closed strong, winning the final six points of the match.
The duo improved to 32-11 together this season, extending their own school record of doubles wins by a team in a single season. It was Bek’s 38th doubles win of the year and Wong’s 37th, making them 1-2 in Clemson history in that category. It was Bek’s 93rd career doubles win, moving her into fifth in school history, and Wong’s 89th, which puts her eighth.
Despite the successes, the Tigers are focused on the match ahead, not the falling records. As Wong said, “I know this might sound bad, but I don’t look at much school history, we’re just playing and enjoying it. I don’t even think about it.”
For the third straight day, Josipa Bek appeared to be hampered by a leg injury, but Wong was able to cover enough ground to help make up a lot of the difference. The two were able to win several key points off the volley, using exceptional hands and playing a smart game.
“It’s different because we usually both come up, so I have to be more aggressive on the net. I could probably do a better job of being aggressive.”
The second set provided a lot of drama, as Clemson looked to take control out of the gate, going up 3-0 behind two breaks. But the Vols rallied to take the next four games, and the teams held out, with Bek and Wong forcing a tiebreak. Tennessee took a 2-0 lead, but Clemson ran off the next three for a 3-2 lead. The Vol duo took the next four points, setting up a triple set point.
But Clemson was up to the challenge, fighting off the set points, and getting it to match point at 7-6. Bek hit it into the net to tie it at seven, but rebounded with an ace to give the Tigers another match point. Again, Tennessee fought it off, and Bek’s forehand sailed into the net to tie it at 8-8. The Volunteer duo then took the next two points to win the tiebreak, 10-8, and force a third set.
It was Tennessee who jumped out to the edge in the third set, getting up a break at 3-1. Clemson was again up to the challenge, taking the next three games for a 4-3 lead. Each team held serve, but it was the Volunteers who forced the tiebreak.
The teams traded a point before Clemson grabbed control, reeling off six straight points on the way to a 7-1 tiebreak win and a berth in the Elite Eight.
Results: NCAA Doubles Championships – Round of 16 – Stanford, CATaube Tennis Center – Stadium Court 6 – May 27, 2011 (5-8) #6 Bek/Wong (CU) def. #18 Pluskota/Boren (TENN), 6-1, 6-7(8), 7-6(1)
Results: NCAA Doubles Championships – First Round – Stanford, CATaube Tennis Center – Stadium Court 3 – May 26, 2011 (5-8) #6 Bek Wong (CU) def. #38 Boxx/Guthrie (MISS), 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
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