Photo Gallery vs. Louisville - 4/19/08 Coming Soon

TAMPA, Fla. – For the third-straight year, the University of South Florida women’s tennis team advanced to the finals of the BIG EAST Championships by defeating the Louisville Cardinals 4-1 Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the 2008 BIG EAST Championships in Tampa, Fla.

“The top four singles really stepped up for us this afternoon,” said USF head coach Agustin Moreno. “It was really good to see Janette (Bejlkova) and Jessica (Zok) off the court quick to give the other girls confidence in their matches. Liz (Cruz) and Ally (Mueller) really stepped it up for us when it mattered the most.”

The Bulls (18-5) have the Cardinals number when it comes to the BIG EAST Championships. They have defeated the Cards for the third year in a row to earn the right to play Notre Dame in the finals.

The Green and Gold stumbled out of the gate early, dropping the doubles match, going into the singles down 1-0 with their backs to the wall.

Earlier this year the Cardinals defeated the Bulls 4-3 in Louisville, Ky., with USF taking the doubles point in that match.

With revenge on their minds, the Bulls came storming back to take the top two singles matches to give USF a 2-1 advantage in the match.

Freshman Janette Bejlkova was off the court first for the Bulls with her 6-0, 6-1 victory over Lauren Imre at the top singles spot.

Not far behind her teammate was sophomore Jessica Zok who didn’t waste any time getting out of the blazing Florida heat, putting away UofL’s Lindsay Jones 6-1, 6-1 at the No. 2 spot.

After Louisville started to rally back into the match, senior Liz Cruz stepped up at the No. 4 spot and put USF into the driver’s seat, giving them a 3-1 advantage. Cruz’s experience in close matches proved to be the difference in her 7-5, 6-3 victory over sophomore Natalia Baez.

With USF up 3-1 with three matches still to play, all eyes were on sophomore Ally Mueller who was in her third set on the afternoon with junior Biance Gorbea. After dropping the first set 6-0, the Ohio State transfer turned up the heat in the second set, winning 6-3 to force a deciding set.

The two conference rivals traded blows until Mueller pulled away, giving her a 6-5 advantage in the match. Mueller controlled the tempo in the third set, not allowing her opponent to gain any advantages. With the score 40-30 in Mueller’s favor, she forced Gorbea to hit a forehand into the net, giving Mueller the match and USF the 4-1 victory.

“Ally’s a competitor,” said Moreno. “She’s in great shape and it showed in today’s match. She takes her chances when she can and came out with a good win.”

The Bulls will now look to defend their BIG EAST title against the No. 1 seed Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Last year USF upset the top seed 4-3 to claim the school’s first ever BIG EAST Championships. This will be the second meeting between the two BIG EAST schools. Earlier in the year Notre Dame defeated USF 6-1 in South Bend, Ind.

“It’s going to be a tough match tomorrow,’ said Moreno. “today’s match took a toll on us but with the rest of the day to rest, we will go after them tomorrow with everything we got.’

The first serve in the women’s BIG EAST Championships match is set for 9 a.m. at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts.

For scores and updated brackets from the tournament, point your web browser to www.BIGEAST.org

NCAA Women’s Tennis
2008 BIG EAST Tennis Championships
Tampa, Fla.
No. 2 Louisville, 1 vs. No. 3 USF, 4

Doubles
1. Gorbea/Baez (UofL) vs. Bejlkova/Rai (USF), 6-3 DNF
2. Imre/White (UofL) def. Zok/Shumate (USF), 8-6
3. Jones/Van Aerde (UofL) def. Cruz/Guevara (USF), 8-5

Singles
1. Janette Bejlkova (USF) def. Lauren Imre (UofL), 6-0, 6-1
2. Jessica Zok (USF) def. Lindsey Jones (UofL), 6-1, 6-1
3. Allyn Mueller (USF) def. Bianca Gorbea (UofL), 0-6, 6-3, 7-5
4. Liz Cruz (USF) def. Natalia Baez (UofL), 7-5, 6-3
5. Iciri Rai (USF) vs. Robyn White (UofL), 6-4, 4-6, 3-0 DNF
6. Lauren Schumate (USF) vs. Jo-Ann Van Aerde (UofL), 6-7 (4), 6-4, 0-1 DNF