Huskies Pull 4-3 Comeback Over Oregon, Advance To NCAA Sweet 16

May 16, 2004

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SEATTLE, Wash. - Down match points on two occasions that would have ended the season for Washington's women's tennis team, sophomore Dinka Hadzic somehow found the will to battle back and earn a third-set tiebreak victory at No. 4 singles, leading the No. 10 Huskies (20-5) over the No. 32 Ducks (17-9), 4-3, in the second round of the NCAA Championships at Bill Quillian Stadium this afternoon.

The Huskies won their NCAA Regional for the second-straight year and move on to the 16-team NCAA Finals in Athens, Ga., which begin Thurs., May 20. UW will face No. 44 Arizona State in the Sweet 16 after the Sun Devils pulled off a huge 4-0 upset of No. 12 Texas in Austin. UW and ASU will meet Thursday at 9 a.m. Eastern Time.

With the Huskies trailing the Ducks 3-2, Hadzic's singles match against Davina Mendiburu was in its third set when Husky junior Mugette Ahn completed a comeback of her own at No. 6 singles to level the match score at 3-3. Ahn dropped the first set in a tiebreak before wearing down Oregon's Ester Bak and finally prevailing 6-7, 6-4, 6-1.

The entire season for both teams then came down to Hadzic and Mendiburu's third set. After Hadzic captured a long first set, 6-4, Mendiburu took control of the second, winning 6-1. Hadzic seemed to steal the momentum back as she took a 3-1 lead, before Mendiburu again rebounded, scoring four straight games to lead 5-3 and put UW on the brink of elimination.

With Mendiburu serving, Hadzic raised her game, breaking the Duck's serve and then leveling the match at 5-5. After Mendiburu held serve, Hadzic's serve was taken to deuce, Mendiburu earned a pair of match points but Hadzic escaped each with stellar passing shots and held serve to force a tiebreak. Hadzic led 6-3 in the tiebreak as Mendiburu seemed to be fading, and suffered from leg cramps. But Mendiburu saved all three, two on Hadzic's serve and one on her own, by charging the net and putting away her volleys. Another down the line passing shot at 6-6 earned Hadzic her fourth match point, and capitalized on this one with another winner as UW head coach Patty McCain collapsed on the court in relief and the Husky team rushed to Hadzic and piled on in celebration.

'Dinka played with so much heart and so tough, it's just incredible,' McCain said. 'This group has just been so tough all year, to come back from the edge of death so many times. Mugette (Ahn) coming back and performing like that after being so far down is just incredible.

Washington had beaten Oregon twice already this season, but both duals were very closely contested. For the third time this season, the Ducks jumped out to a 1-0 lead by taking the doubles point. The No. 44 Duck team of Daria Panova and Courtney Nagle upset UW's 10th-ranked tandem of Claire Carter and Dea Sumantri, 8-4. Davina Mendiburu and Ester Bak clinched the point with an 8-6 win at No. 3 doubles.

Senior three-time All-American Claire Carter, playing in the final home match of her career, earned one of the biggest wins of her career by upsetting Oregon's 12th-ranked Daria Panova in straight sets at No. 1 singles to even the match at 1-1. No. 2 and 3 singles finished nearly simultaneously soon after, with 17th-ranked junior Dea Sumantri getting an easy win over Oregon's No. 71 Dominika Dieskova at second singles, and Oregon's Courtney Nagle downing UW's 64th-ranked senior Erin Hoe, 6-1, 6-4 at No. 3. Anna Leksinska of Oregon defeated Husky freshman Saskia Nauenberg at No. 5 singles to put Oregon ahead 3-2, setting up the must-win nature for Hadzic and Ahn in their respective matches.

The women advance to the Sweet-16 for the third time in school history. Last year they lost their Round of 16 match to UCLA 4-3. Washington's best ever finish was a Quarterfinal appearance in 2001.

NCAA Championships - Second Round
May 16, 2004 - Bill Quillian Stadium - Seattle, Wash.
No. 10 Washington 4, No. 32 Oregon 3

1. (44) Panova/Nagle (UO) def. (10) Carter/Sumantri (UW), 8-4
2. Hadzic/Hoe (UW) vs. Leksinska/Dieskova (UO), 5-6 (DNF)
3. Mendiburu/Bak (UO) def. Ahn/Nauenberg (UW), 8-6
Order of Finish: 1, 3

1. (33) Claire Carter (UW) def. (12) Daria Panova (UO), 7-5, 6-1
2. (17) Dea Sumantri (UW) def. (71) Dominika Dieskova (UO), 6-2, 6-2
3. Courtney Nagle (UO) def. (64) Erin Hoe (UW), 6-1, 6-4
4. Dinka Hadzic (UW) def. Davina Mendiburu (UO), 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (6)
*5. Anna Leksinska (UO) def. Saskia Nauenberg (UW), 6-1, 7-5
6. Mugette Ahn (UW) def. Ester Bak (UO), 6-7, 6-4, 6-1
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 4*-Clinched match

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