What a mighty fine time Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase had together Saturday.
The Georgia doubles pair sent Baylor‚Äôs Victoria Kisialeva and Blair Shankle packing 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA doubles championships and spent the majority of the two-set match laughing ‚Äî laughing with each other, at each other, with coaches Jeff Wallace and Drake Bernstein and even with the rowdy crowd that nearly filled the grandstand behind the pit at Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve never had that much fun in my life,‚Äù Kowase said.
Added Herring: ‚ÄúThat was the most fun I think I‚Äôve ever had on the tennis court. Everything seemed to be kind of going our way and then I think the crowd was almost laughing with us out there.‚Äù
Even the duo‚Äôs few misplaced shots drew laughter.
In the second set, Herring tried to leap toward the wall to return a lob shot, coming up just short and flailing in the process. She turned to her partner for a smile and a high five, providing the crowd with a chuckle.
‚ÄúI just think they‚Äôre having fun and they‚Äôre loose,‚Äù Georgia coach Jeff Wallace said. ‚ÄúI think when you‚Äôre like that, I think mentally you‚Äôre engaged and it just makes you feel like you can do anything and that‚Äôs what it was.‚Äù
The second-seeded duo quickly went up 5-0 in the second set and didn‚Äôt give up a point in the fourth and fifth games. But Herring double faulted twice serving for the match and Baylor got on the board before the Bulldogs broke the Bears for the win.
It took all of about 75 minutes for the Georgia pair to secure a spot in the semifinals. The length of the match was drastically shorter than their previous outings, and Herring and Kowase welcome the extra rest.
‚ÄúI think the last couple days, Maho has been playing great tennis and I‚Äôve just been needing to get on her level. I think (Saturday) I finally was, and that was the outcome,‚Äù Herring said. ‚ÄúIt was great physically because it has been so hot, so I think it‚Äôs really important when you can shorten a match to keep it short.‚Äù
Herring and Kowase, who are 36-6 on the season and are the first Georgia pair since Chelsey Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist in 2012 to advance to the semifinals, now have a Southeastern Conference duo standing in their way of a spot in the finals.
They face Auburn‚Äôs Pleun Burgmans and Emily Flickinger at 4 p.m. today. The doubles pairs faced each other on April 13 in a dual match that went 4-0 in Georgia‚Äôs favor, though their doubles match went unfinished with Herring and Kowase leading 7-4 when it was halted.
When asked if she thought they would make it to the semifinals, Herring said the strides they have made as a doubles team in the last two years have set them up to do so.
‚ÄúI knew when Maho and I are on our game, we really complement each other,‚Äù the junior said. ‚Äú… I think going into the tournament I kind of had high expectations, but every opponent is good, so you never know.‚Äù
Kowase‚Äôs answer was short, much like her match with Herring Saturday.
‚ÄúYeah, we‚Äôre the No. 2 seed,‚Äù the senior said.
Men‚Äôs Singles Quarterfinals
No. 28 Alex Sarkissian (PEPPERDINE) def. No. 47 Roberto Cid (SOUTH FLORIDA), 6-0, 6-3
No. 39 Denis Nguyen (HARVARD) def. No. 51 Florent Diep (FLORIDA), 6-2, 6-2
No. 16 [9-16] S√∏ren Hess-Olesen (TEXAS) def. No. 35 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA), 6-3, 0-6, 6-2
No. 2  Marcos Giron (UCLA) def. No. 55 Ben McLachlan (CAL), 6-1, 6-3
Women‚Äôs Singles Quarterfinals
No. 24 Lynn Chi (CALIFORNIA) def. No. 1  Jamie Loeb (NORTH CAROLINA), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
No. 22 Abigail Tere-Apisah (GEORGIA STATE) def. No. 7  Beatrice Capra (DUKE), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
No. 27 Ester Goldfeld (DUKE) def. No. 13 [9-16] Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
No. 32 Danielle Collins (VIRGINIA) def. No. 5  Hayley Carter (NORTH CAROLINA), 6-3, 3-6, 7-5
Men‚Äôs Doubles Quarterfinals
No. 14 Arjun Kadhe/Jakob Sude (OKLA. STATE) def. No. 15 Francis Alcantara/Alex Sarkissian (PEPPERDINE), 6-4, 6-3
No. 3  Peter Kobelt/Kevin Metka (OHIO STATE) def. No. 16 Lloyd Glasspool/S√∏ren Hess-Olesen (TEXAS), W/O
No. 9 Hunter Harrington/Dominique Maden (CLEMSON) def. No. 4  Gonzales Austin/Ryan Lipman (VANDY), 6-4, 6-4
No. 2  Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (TENN) def. No. 28 Gregory Bayane/Chase Melton (CAL), 7-5, 6-3
Women‚Äôs Doubles Quarterfinals
No. 5 [5-8] Beatrice Capra/Hanna Mar (DUKE) def. No. 13 Whitney Kay/Caroline Price (UNC), 7-5, 6-2
No. 4  Maya Jansen/Erin Routliffe (BAMA) def. No. 8 [5-8] Monique Albuquerque/Clementina Riobueno (MIAMI), 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
No. 15 Pleun Burgmans/Emily Flickinger (AUBURN) def. No. 3  Hayley Carter/Jamie Loeb (UNC), 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
No. 2  Lauren Herring/Maho Kowase (UGA) def. No. 35 Victoria Kisialeva/Blair Shankle (BAYLOR), 6-3, 6-1
Seed in brackets