ZHELTOVA WINS SECOND-ROUND NCAA TOURNAMENT MATCH, GAINS ALL-AMERICAN STATUS
TULSA, Okla. -- Sacramento State sophomore Katrina Zheltova upset North Carolina’s Sanaz Marand, 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-4, in the second round of the NCAA Div. I Women’s Tennis Singles Tournament today at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center.
With the victory, Zheltova will advance to the Sweet 16 of the tournament, and automatically gain All-American status by virtue of reaching the third round. Zheltova, who is the reigning two-time Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player, defeated Furman’s Laura Gioia in three sets (1-6, 6-3, 6-4) yesterday to advance to the second round.
Zheltova becomes the second player in Sacramento State’s Div. I history (1991-pres.) to gain All-American status, joining Margarita Karnaukhova, who earned the honor in 2004. Zheltova and Karnaukhova are also the only two players in Big Sky history to reach the Sweet 16 of the tournament. A native of Minsk, Belarus, Zheltova reached the second round of the tournament last year.
Zheltova will return to action tomorrow to face the winner of the Maria Mosolova (Northwestern)-Chisako Sugiyama (Michigan) match.
Zheltova’s victory was arguably her most impressive of the season as she beat a player in Marand who was ranked ninth in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. In addition, Marand posted a 23-1 dual-match record during the year, including recent victories over the top two players in the nation (Arkansas’ Aurelija Miseviciute and Clemson’s Ana Mijacika).
In the first set of today’s match, Zheltova led, 6-5, and 40-30 in the 12th game, but Marand was able to save the set point, win the game, and eventually win the tiebreaker, 7-2. However, it was all Zheltova from there as she won 12 of the next 17 games. After winning the second set, 6-1, Zheltova jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set. Marand won the next three games to close within, 5-4, but Zheltova put things away by winning four-straight points in the 10th game to win the match.
Zheltova, who is ranked 34th in the nation by the ITA, improved her record to 6-2 against nationally ranked opposition this year. The victory over Marand was the highest ranked opponent she has beaten this season.