What a mighty fine time Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase had together Saturday.
The Georgia doubles pair sent Baylor’s 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 — 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.
“I’ve never had that much fun in my life,” Kowase said.
Added Herring: “That was the most fun I think I’ve 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.”
Even the duo’s 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.
“I just think they’re having fun and they’re loose,” Georgia coach Jeff Wallace said. “I think when you’re like that, I think mentally you’re engaged and it just makes you feel like you can do anything and that’s what it was.”
The second-seeded duo quickly went up 5-0 in the second set and didn’t 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.
“I think the last couple days, Maho has been playing great tennis and I’ve just been needing to get on her level. I think (Saturday) I finally was, and that was the outcome,” Herring said. “It was great physically because it has been so hot, so I think it’s really important when you can shorten a match to keep it short.”
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’s 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’s 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.
“I knew when Maho and I are on our game, we really complement each other,” the junior said. “… I think going into the tournament I kind of had high expectations, but every opponent is good, so you never know.”
Kowase’s answer was short, much like her match with Herring Saturday.
“Yeah, we’re the No. 2 seed,” the senior said.
Men’s 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] Søren 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’s 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’s 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/Søren 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’s 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