ZHELTOVA LETS FIRST SET LEAD SLIP AWAY IN TOURNAMENT LOSS TO SEVENTH-RANKED NATALIE FRAZIER
ATHENS, Ga. -- Sacramento State freshman Katrina Zheltova led, 30-love, and 5-3 in the first set, but could not close out the set in a loss to seventh-ranked Natalie Frazier of the University of Georgia, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championship Thursday afternoon at the Henry Feild Tennis Center.
Zheltova had won four straight games to take a 5-3 lead in the first set, and things looked good when she won the first two points of the ninth game to lead, 30-love. However, Zheltova then lost 10 straight points spanning three games, all coming on unforced errors. Despite trailing, 5-6 and love-30, she eventually forced deuce in the 12th game. That was the first of five deuces in the game as both players battled back and forth before Frazier eventually won. Zheltova had three game points, but could not convert on any of those chances.
Frazier then won the first four games of the second set to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Zheltova won the next three games to close within, 4-3, but Frazier was able to close out the last two games and win the match.
Zheltova, who is currently ranked 111th in the nation, advanced to the second round after defeating 24th ranked Vanja Corovic of the University of Texas yesterday by scores of 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. Today’s loss eliminates Zheltova from the tournament as the Minsk, Belarus, native finished her impressive freshman campaign with a 19-6 singles record and Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player accolades.
With the victory, Frazier, who is Georgia’s top player, will move on to the Round of 16 where she will play tomorrow against the winner of Vanderbilt’s Catherine Newman and Stanford’ Theresa Logar.
Zheltova became the second Sacramento State player to advance past the first round of the tournament, joining Margarita Karnaukhova who accomplished the feat twice (Sweet 16 in 2004, second round in 2005).
Zheltova led the Hornets to a 17-7 overall record and the team’s sixth consecutive Big Sky championship. The team’s season came to a close after falling to top-ranked Stanford, 4-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The future looks bright for Sacramento State as Zheltova was one of six underclassmen on this season’s roster (two freshmen, four sophomores).