Bulldogs Advance Two to Elite Eight
May 23, 2008
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State is the team for doubles.
On Friday, both of the Bulldogs' doubles teams won their matches, advancing to the Elite Eight. All four, Renata Kucerkova, Anastasia Petukhova, Tinesta Rowe and Melanie Gloria have attained First Team All-American status. Fresno State entered the doubles tournament with the most entries of any team represented with two and have advanced both into the final eight.
Kucerkova and Petukhova overcame Auburn's Alex Haney and Melissa Koning, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-3, in the first doubles match of the day. The Bulldogs shot out early, winning the first set quickly and taking a solid lead in the second. But the Tigers battled back, forcing a tie-break. Although Fresno State gave up the tie-break, they didn't give up. The Bulldogs came back strong in the third set, taking a lead and never looking back.
"They started really well, but got a little nervous," said Simon Thibodeau. "But they battled through. It was our goal to make the Elite Eight this season and now both these teams are doing that."
Melanie Gloria, along with partner Tinesta Rowe avenged her loss in singles with a demanding win over Ela Kaluder and Aurelija Miseviciute of Arkansas, 6-3, 7-6 (2). The second-ranked Bulldogs came out with determination, taking a demanding 5-1 lead in the first set. Although the Razorbacks would win the next game, Fresno State held them off for a 6-3 win in the first set. The second set was more evenly matched, coming down to a tie-break. The Bulldogs, facing their second tie-break in as many days, lost the first two points in the tie-break, but won seven straight to seal the victory.
"They played a solid team from Arkansas," said Thibodeau. "They were up 5-1 in less than 15 minutes, making good volleys and solid serves in the first set. The second set was a battle and Melanie and Tinesta had to earn every point."
Gloria was excited about the win and the next round.
"We played really well in the first set, but made too many mistakes," said Gloria. "In the second set, we backed off a little bit and let them come back. But by the end of the set we started being more aggressive and getting a lot of volleys that helped us win the match."
Renata and Petukhova face Clemson's Ani Mijacika and Carol Salge at 11:30 a.m. Petukhova fell to Mijacika in the first round of the singles tournament on Wednesday.
The other doubles team of Gloria and Rowe will take on Amanda Granson and Melissa Mang of Duke at 1 p.m.
"We have been nervous and the more we play, the more we are getting the nerves out and playing better," explained Gloria. "We played Duke last semester. The one we will be playing changed partners, but we know what to expect from them. We are ready"
The Bulldogs have a tradition of excellence in doubles at the NCAA Championship. In 2006, Lucia Sainz and Katharina Winterhalter rolled through the NCAA Doubles Championship, coming up just short of winning the national title.
Follow the Bulldogs compete live at Tulsahurricane.com.
Melanie Gloria-Tinesta Rowe (2), Fresno State def. Ela Kaluder-Aurelija Miseviciute, Arkansas- 6-3, 7-6 (2)
Renata Kucerkova-Anastasia Petukhova, Fresno State def. Alex Haney-Melissa Koning, Auburn- 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-3
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