Tough matchup for Georgia Tech in first round of NCAA tennis tournament

Credit: Danny Karnik

Credit: Danny Karnik

Having added to its lengthy NCAA Tournament streak, the Georgia Tech women’s tennis team will now seek to extend another string.

The Yellow Jackets, in the tournament for the 23rd consecutive time, have won their first-round match in each of their past 20 appearances and are 21-1 altogether. Tech will have a challenge getting to the second round. The No. 17 Jackets (15-9) will play No. 38 Central Florida (11-11) in the round of 64 at 11 a.m. Friday at Florida, host of the four-team regional.

The two teams met at Tech March 23, and the Jackets won 4-3 with the Knights severely short of able bodies. Tech won the doubles point with the help of UCF not supplying a team at No. 3 doubles and then won the point at No. 6 singles because the Knights didn’t field a player there either.

“The matchups are going to be completely different and so they have a really good team,” Tech coach Rodney Harmon said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re going to have to go out and play our best tennis to have a shot to win.”

The winner will face the winner of Florida-North Florida on Saturday. After the Jackets lost four consecutive matches in March in ACC play – three of the opponents are seeded in the top six of the NCAA Tournament – they have won eight of 11, reaching the ACC Tournament semifinals. The most significant was a 4-3 win over Duke in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. The Blue Devils received the sixth overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

“I feel like we’re hitting the ball well,” Harmon said. “We’ve been practicing well, but we haven’t practiced quite as much because we had to take some time off during finals.”

Tech will be led by Carol Lee at No. 1 singles and Kylie Bilchev at No. 2 singles. Lee is ranked 15th nationally with a record of 25-10. Bilchev is ranked 27th and has a 25-8 record. Both players have also received invitations to the 64-player NCAA singles tournament, which starts May 22 in Lake Nona, Florida. It’s Lee’s second appearance and Bilchev’s first.