Lilly Kimbell paired with Chelsey Gullickson to win the ITA SE Regional title.
Oct. 24, 2011
The ninth-ranked Gullickson cruised to a 6-2,7-5 win over the top seed and fifth-ranked Lauren Embree (Florida) to win her second career regional title. She defeated three straight Gators en route to the title, going 6-0 at the event to improve to 13-1 on the year. In their two previous meetings in team matches, Embree had edged Gullickson. On Monday, Gullickson earned a spot in the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships next month in New York. The tournament slated for Nov. 3-6 is considered the second leg of the collegiate Grand Slam, and it takes place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
"Ever since I came back last January, I've struggled to get in a routine, to get in control during some matches and get out of a slump," said Gullickson. "After coming back from being down 5-1 in the third set in my second round match Saturday, I felt like I had gotten my confidence back and I was playing like when I won NCAAs (in 2010). I stayed mentally tough throughout this tournament, and I knew what I had to do, and the results showed."
Gullickson jumped out a 5-0 start against Embree and then took the first set 6-2. The Gator junior took a 3-0 lead in the second set and then 4-2 before Gullickson tied it at 4-all. The Bulldog senior took a 5-4 advantage and had three match points but Embree rallied back to make it 5-all. Gullickson won the next two games to win the title.
"Lauren is one of the toughest competitors; she doesn't go away, you have to beat her, and Chelsey came through today," said Georgia associate coach Frank Polito. "Chelsey had a great run here, she stayed focus from start to finish in both singles and doubles. Throughout the tournament, she showed a lot of energy and stayed positive. If she plays like this all season, she is poised to have a big senior year."
In doubles, it was an all-Georgia final. The Gullickson/Kimbell duo defeated 20th-ranked Kate Fuller and Lauren Herring 8-2. This tournament marked the first time that Gullickson and Kimbell played together, and they went 5-0 to claim a spot in the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships.
"In my career, I've played a lot with Nadja (Gilchrist) and Kate (Fuller), and I was excited to get a chance to play with Lilly," Gullickson added. "Our styles compliment each other because Lilly likes to come to the net and volley a lot. It was awkward playing our teammates in the final. I was proud of how both teams did in making it to the final."
"After they got their first win here, Chelsey and Lilly were fired up about how well they played together, and it gave them so momentum," said Polito. "Each round they got better and better, and they did a great job of winning the tournament."
2011 USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Women's Tennis Championships
Ring Tennis Complex, Gainesville, Fla., Monday, Oct. 24,
Chelsey Gullickson (9), UGA d. Lauren Embree (5), UF, 6-2, 7-5
Gullickson/Kimbell, UGA d. Fuller/Herring (20), UGA, 8-2