Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson won the NCAA singles title in front of her home crowd in Athens, ending Jana Juricova’s 19 match winning streak 6-3, 7-6 (7).
Gullickson controlled the first set with her serve and took it with little trouble, 6-3. The second set became much tighter as both ladies struggled to hold serve. After four consecutive breaks, Juricova finally managed to hold serve at 4-5 but not without some controversy. Two overrules from the chair umpire, both of which went against Gullickson, had the crowd in a frenzy. Gullickson said after the match that she was frustrated by the calls but just tried to put them behind her.
After the changeover, Gullickson appeared to have calmed down and attributed the crowd in helping her stay positive throughout the second set, despite the breaks of her usually strong serve and the controversial calls from the linesmen (who are unique to the singles finals). Where the crowd has typically been beneficial to Georgia throughout the tournament, Juricova also said that the hostile crowd motivated her to try harder. The two held serve and a tiebreak would decide the second set.
Gullickson jumped to an early lead with a mini-break but quickly lost it, following the ebb and flow of the second set. The two battled to 7-7 and that was as close as Juricova would come as Gullickson’s big serve put her ahead 8-7 and a swinging volley in the net from Juricova won the title for Gullickson.
Gullickson, who was extremely excited after winning the title as a sophomore, told us that the ups and downs of the season left her less confident than she would have liked heading into the tournament but attributed the difficulties to her ability to fight through tough situations. In the last three matches, she ended an undefeated run, a 21 match-winning streak and finally, Juricova’s 19 match streak. Combined with the questionable calls in this match, Gullickson’s mental toughness was perhaps her greatest asset in this tournament.
Finishing 30-8 on the season, Gullickson was asked about joining her sister, Carly, on the WTA tour. Gullickson replied that there were no plans for turning professional though she is hopeful for a wild card into the US Open. In her post-match interview on court, Gullickson also dropped the hint that she would be here completing her scholarship at Georgia, thanking the crowd and adding, “see you in 2012!”
After the recent UGA summit with Athletic Director Damon Evans saying he was disappointed with UGA’s athletic performance this past year, another two seasons with Gullickson would certainly brighten the forecast.
Here’s the video of Chelsey Gullickson taking the title.