Kalsarieva's NCAA Run Ends in Quarterfinals
ATHENS, Ga. – The magical NCAA singles run turned in by Kentucky junior Aibika Kalsarieva came to an end Thursday afternoon, as third-seeded Jelena Pandzic of Fresno State, the ITA National Freshman of the Year, ousted the All-American Kalsarieva from the NCAA Championships by a 6-2, 6-1 count at Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Pandzic improves to 28-1 on the season and moves on to Friday’s semifinal against Miami’s Megan Bradley.
Kalsarieva served up the first two points of the match before Pandzic rallied for the next four for an early service break. Pandzic held in the next game, as did Kalsarieva. In the fourth game, Kalsarieva saved a game point with a brilliant backhand down the line, but Pandzic responded by taking the next two points to hold at 3-1. Kalsarieva’s first double fault of the match resulted in another Pandzic service break, and Pandzic held for the third time in as many games for a 5-1 lead. Kalsarieva saved two set points and managed to hold service for the first time to cut the deficit to 5-2. Kalsarieva saved two more set points from Pandzic’s serve, but Pandzic wisely used her sharp backhand to her advantage to close out the set, 6-2.
As in the first set, Pandzic produced a service break and immediately held for a 2-0 lead. Kalsarieva yielded her serve once again before breaking Pandzic to cut lead to 3-1. However, Kalsarieva failed to hold serve once again and Pandzic finished off the set to claim the match.
Kalsarieva concludes an outstanding initial season of NCAA tennis at 40-14. She earned her first NCAA All-America selection by way of her seeding in the singles tournament and became the first Wildcat women’s tennis player to advance to the NCAA singles quarterfinals.
(3) Jelena Pandzic (FSU) def. (9-16) Aibika Kalsarieva (UK) – 6-2, 6-1