The only undefeated team left in Mylan World TeamTennis’ 2015 season maintained their flawless record on Thursday night, capturing a thrilling victory at home to edge the California Dream, 20-19 — winning three of five sets played.
In a match dominated by momentum shifts, the encounter between the Aces and Dream began on even footing, as Alla Kudryavtseva and Nicole Gibbs traded four straight service holds with Jarka Gajdosova and Anabel Medina Garrigues in women’s doubles. The Dream suddenly found a second gear from there, winning the next seven games to grab the opening set and lead 3-0 in mixed.
Kudryavtseva stopped the rot with a hold and, after California Coach David Macpherson substituted Gajdosova in for Medina Garrigues, the powerful Russian knocked a backhand down the line from out of the air to break back. The hot shot — and the emotional release it produced — clearly had its effect, spurring her and partner Teymuraz Gabashvili into a run of their own. The Russians continued to engage the Austin crowd as they captured the final four games of the set.
“They don’t call it ‘home advantage’ for nothing!” Kudryavtseva beamed from the bench.
Gabashvili stayed on court for men’s doubles with Jarmere Jenkins; the big hitting duo roared out to 3-0 and eventually sealed Tennys Sandgren and Neal Skupski after Jenkins hit a screaming forehand on set point.
Gajdosova and Gibbs emerged from halftime to play a rousing set of women’s singles, with the offense of the Aussie matching up well against the American’s defense. A controversial call that went against California sent teammate Medina Garrigues rocketing from the bench to plead her case to the umpire. Gajdosova managed to hold her nerve and take a knife’s-edge lead for the Dream — with victory to be decided during men’s singles.
Sandgren tried his best to blunt the power coming from his tall Russian opponent, but the American appeared to injure himself during one of his defensive slides. Still, Sandgren was able to pressure Gabashvili with his serve, and even held three break points in the following game.
Nicknamed “Tsunami” for his notorious temper, Gabashvili stayed calm throughout and relied on his effortless aggression to eventually clinch the victory. The Aces will have little time to celebrate, as they next head to California to play the Dream at the Sunrise Mall.
Can the Aces keep their unbeaten streak through the first week?