ZHELTOVA ADVANCES TO NCAA SECOND ROUND WITH THREE-SET VICTORY
TULSA, Okla. — Sacramento State sophomore Katrina Zheltova rallied for a three-set win over Furman’s Laura Gioia in the opening round of the NCAA Div. I Women’s Singles Championships on Wednesday. Zheltova overcame a slow start to record the 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
With the win, Zheltova, who is ranked 34th nationally, joins Margarita Karnaukhova as the only Hornet players to record a victory in the NCAA tournament. The Minsk, Belarus, native improved to 16-5 overall while Gioia ended her season at 22-3.
Gioia controlled play from the start of the first set, breaking Zheltova early and cruising to a 6-1 win. The loss mark just the fifth time this season that the Big Sky Conference MVP has dropped the opening set.
Zheltova bounced back to even the match with a 6-3 win in the second set to force only her third three-set match of the year.
Momentum swung back to Gioia to start the third set. The junior built a 3-1 lead but then dropped two of the next three games to take a 4-3 advantage. With Zheltova serving, Gioia and had five game points in the eighth game but was thwarted by Zheltova on each occasion. Zhetlova held on to win the game and then broke Gioia, who had two more game points, to take a 5-4 advantage — her first lead of the set. Zheltova then closed out the match by winning the next game.
With the victory, Zheltova will meet North Carolina’s Sanaz Marand in the second round on Thursday. Marand advanced to the round of 32 with a convincing 6-2, 6-1, victory over Caitlin Whoriskey of Tennessee. Marand is one of eight players in the tournament to earn a seed of Nos. 9-16 and enters the match with a 37-5 overall record and a 23-1 mark in dual matches. The sophomore is ranked ninth by collegetennisonline.com and has recently recorded a win over then-No.1 Ani Mijacika of Clemson during the ACC Tournament.
The time of the match, which will take place at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center at the University of Tulsa, has yet to be determined. Live stats for all matches and selected video is available by choosing the link at the top of the page.