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Falconi, Tennessee Victorious vs. Rivals in Riviera/ITA
Women's All-American Singles, Doubles Championships

Riviera Final Champ

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – In the 25th anniversary of the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships, a player hailing from the Peach State was crowned singles champion for the first time since the inaugural year of the tournament.


Sophomore Chelsey Gullickson was seeking to be the first Bulldog to capture the singles title since Lisa Spain won in 1983 but was overmatched by another sophomore in Georgia Tech’s Irina Falconi, who teamed with senior Amanda McDowell to capture the 2008 ITA All-American doubles title.

Falconi, seeded eighth in the tournament, cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over the second-ranked Gullickson to earn her first individual national title. After dropping the first game of the match, Falconi went on a run and never looked back.

"It feels unbelievable to win this title," Falconi said. "Winning is a great feeling no matter whether it is a a regular match or capturing a national title. I didn't realize that I had won the title until the awards ceremony began."

"It was a matter of me being on task and completely on the game plan" Falconi said. "I have played Gullickson before but I played a totally different game from the last time and I think I caught her off guard. I could feel if I kept the momentum going I would be all right. She did not give me this match but I just took it point-by-point."

The second-seeded Gullickson became the immediate favorite after Northwestern’s Maria Mosolava took an early first-round exit. However, as play continued through the week, it became more apparent that Falconi should also be considered a top contender, outscoring her opponent’s 62-23 without dropping a single set. Gullickson’s road to the final was a bit more difficult, having been extended to three sets twice and winning in two tie-breaking straight sets matches prior to today’s match.

Since 2007, the Georgia Tech women's tennis team has earned six national titles including Falconi's victory this weekend. The Yellow Jackets have won two ITA National Team Indoor Championships, the 2007 NCAA Championship, Amanda McDowell won the 2008 NCAA Singles title and McDowell and Falconi captured the 2008 Riviera/ITA All-American Championships doubles title.

"I am very happy for Irina achieving such a remarkable goal," head coach Bryan Shelton said. "She was able to win this National Championship in such convincing fashion which speaks to the hard work she put in this summer and fall. Irina helps us to add to the National Championships we have amassed over the past few years both individually and as a team. To think that she is only a sophomore brings a huge smile to my face."  

The championship doubles final featured two SEC rivals battling for the title in Florida and Tennessee, who each picked up big upset quarterfinal victories. In the end, the experience of 2007 Riviera/ITA Doubles Champion Caitlin Whoriskey of Tennessee, who provided the tournament’s biggest upset over Mosolova, teamed up with Natalie Pluskota, the ITA/USTA Summer Singles Champion, to knock off Florida’s phenom freshmen duo of Allie Will and Lauren Embree, 3-6, 6-1, 6-0.


In consolation play, the ITA/USTA Summer Doubles Champions of Kali Krisik and Kristy Frilling of Notre Dame were able brush off Josipa Bek and Ina Hadziselimovic of Clemson to capture the doubles consolation title while Anastasia Petukhova of Fresno State’s top doubles team put the clamps on UCLA’s Yasmin Schnack, 6-4, 6-3, claiming the consolation singles championships.