Cats' Run Comes To An End
May 15, 2003
Gainesville, Fla. - A major chapter in UK women's tennis history came to an end on Thursday when the 12th-ranked Wildcats were defeated 4-0 by No. 7 Georgia in the NCAA Tournament round of 16, being played at Florida's Ring Tennis Complex.
The Cats found themselves in a hole early when UGA won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead and a surge of momentum UK could not overcome.
In singles, 37th-ranked Sarah Witten took on the Bulldogs' third-ranked Agata Cioroch on court one and looked to be in command after taking a quick 2-0 lead in the first set. But Cioroch bounced back and won the next three games to go up 3-2. Witten fought back, as the two traded games before forcing a tiebreak. Witten went down quickly in the breaker 2-0 and fought back within 2-1 but was unable to hold off the UGA junior and ultimately fell 7-4 in the tiebreak to lose the first set 7-6. In the second set, Witten was unable to get anything going and went down 5-0. The Naples, Fla. native was able pull out two games, but that was all, as Cioroch took the set, 6-2, to win the match and give the Dawgs a 2-0 lead. Then almost as soon as play on court one was finished, UK's Jill Buckley and Shannon Stafford fell on courts three and four, giving UGA the team victory and sending them to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship.
"Congratulations to Georgia," Coach Mark Guilbeau said. "They played very smart tennis and are a well coached team. I think they set an example that every team should strive toward."
With the end of Thursday's match came the end of an era for UK women's tennis. Seniors Jill Buckley, Leigh Bradwell, Shannon Stafford, Amy Trefethen and Sarah Witten each played their last team match for the Cats. Over the last five years, these five women helped lay the foundation of tradition that has been bestowed upon the women's tennis team. They all played an active role in helping UK reach the sweet 16 in each of the last two years and earning the UK women's tennis program its first-ever top-10 national ranking.
"We all leave this tournament thinking about our five seniors," Guilbeau said. "Tennis is not the most important aspect of this moment. These seniors basically built this program to where it is today.
"Regardless of what happens to UK tennis in the future, every national ranking and tournament win is a testament to the hard work and dedication those five girls put in over the last half decade."
The seven-year head coach also realizes he has an extenision of that tradition coming back as well.
"I thank Jill, Leigh, Amy, Shannon and Sarah for everything they've done," Guilbeau added. "We do have a younger group of girls coming back and a new group coming in. I'm so proud of what Danielle Petrisko, Nathalie Roels and Shannon Stough have accomplished and am confident they will be able to continue building our program around the next group of girls who come in."
While team play is over for the Cats, Witten, Trefethen and Roels will compete in the individual draw of the tournament. Witten and Roels begin singles play on Monday. Witten and Trefethen will begin competition in doubles on Tuesday. The individual draw also will be played at the Ring Complex.