February 29, 2004
AUSTIN, Texas -Texas rallied for a three-set win at No. 2 singles on Sunday evening at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center to give the 13th-ranked Longhorns (7-1, 4-0 Big 12 Conference) a 4-3 victory over eighth-ranked UCLA (6-4).
Katie Ruckert, who is a perfect 7-0 in dual matches and 15-3 overall, topped Feriel Esseghir, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 to give the Longhorns the win.
Down 1-0 after the doubles point, Texas turned the tide in their favor with straight-set wins at the top and bottom of the singles lineup. Freshman Ristine Olson (Missoula, Mont.) has been a dominant fixture at the No. 6 position for Texas as she improved to 6-1 in dual matches on the year with a 6-2, 6-2 decision over Nina Yaftali. Classmate Petra Dizdar (Split, Croatia), ranked No. 18 in the nation, followed shortly after with a 6-4, 6-1 decision over 13th-ranked Jackie Carleton at the top spot.
After taking a 2-1 lead, the final four matches all went to a third set. From that point on the Bruins and Longhorns exchanged wins to set up the decisive match at No. 2 singles. Lauren Fisher of UCLA defeated sophomore Kelly Baritot (Allison Park, Pa.) at No. 4, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 before UT retook the lead when sophomore Mia Marovic upended Laura Gordon at No. 5, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Down 3-2, UCLA immediately countered with a victory at No. 3 singles when Sarah Gregg rallied for a 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 decision over sophomore Kendra Strohm (Tucson, Ariz.). Strohm, the 2003 Big 12 Freshman of the Year, staid in her match until the very end, finally having her serve broke at 4-4 in the third. The win for UCLA evened the score at 3-3.
The Bruins gained the upper hand early by winning the doubles point with victories at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions. Yaftali and Gregg were on the board first after knocking off Olson and Baritot, 8-4, at the third slot. Fisher and Gordon then clinched the point when they topped Dizdar and Marovic as the No. 2 position by an 8-4 score as well. Although the doubles point was already determined, Ruckert and Strohm finished out their match at the top spot and posted an 8-5 win over Carleton and Esseghir.
UCLA returns home next week to face cross-town rival USC at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Wednesday beginning at 1:30 p.m.