ASU women's tennis completes upset victory over UCLA

Senior Gussie O'Sullivan made sure the Sun Devils were on the right side of a clinching match

For the second-straight contest, the fate of ASU tennis came down to its final singles match.

This time, senior Gussie O'Sullivan made sure the Sun Devils (13-6,6-3 Pac-12) were on the right side of the decision. The Australia-native turned in a gutsy performance on court six and secured the Sun Devils' biggest win of the season, defeating No. 22 UCLA, 4-3. 

"With Gussie, we call her 'The Grinder' for a reason," head coach Sheila McInerney said after the match. "It is not always pretty, but she is just tough out there and you have to beat her. Sometimes down at the six position, it isn't easy for the kids to do that. Gussie is going to stay out there for breakfast lunch and dinner."

O'Sullivan dug out of a 4-2 first-set hole, taking four consecutive games from Bruin's junior Kristin Wiley to grab the first set. The two players then split the first ten games in the second set.

But Wiley served up a multiple double faults at the wrong times. O'Sullivan took advantage and kept the ball in play. She broke to go up 6-5 and then won on serve, 6-4, 7-5. 

For O'Sullivan, this win snapped a two-match losing streak, and will only help her confidence heading into the Pac-12 championships and, hopefully, the NCAA Tournament. 

She has come through in big moments against quality opponents before. Last season, O'Sullivan clinched ASU's first victory over Stanford since 2008. O'Sullivan said this latest win ranks among the best of her career.

"Sheila told us that should solidify us into the NCAA Tournament," O'Sullivan said. "We knew all year that we are just as good as anyone. We have lost a few heartbreakers, 4-3, and I just did not want that to happen again today." 

After getting down in the first set, O'Sullivan wasn't worried. She just kept grinding away and waited for her moment. The senior does not have a lot of firepower, but she played high shot after high shot and forced her opponent to not over-hit under pressure.  

"To get 4-2 down, I think I lost a couple of deuce points and could have been up 4-2, but I knew I was still in it," O'Sullivan said. "I knew she was tired and I feel like I have a lot of fitness behind me. Some people whack it when they're under pressure, and I just get balls in."

ASU lost the doubles point and singles match on courts one and two, but it was the three players that lost against the Trojans yesterday who stepped up and made the comeback possible. 

After getting down early, the Sun Devils needed four consecutive singles wins to earn the team victory. 

Juniors Kelley Anderson and Nicole Fossa-Huergo, along with freshman Savannah Slaysman delivered convincing straight set wins, setting the stage for O'Sullivan.

Senior Kassidy Jump faced off against the No. 3 player in the country, freshman Ena Shibahara, on court one. Jump lost in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, but battled till the end and gave herself multiple chances to mount a comeback. McInerney said she thought Jump played well. 

"She banged up her knee yesterday and we were even debating whether to play her today or not," McInenrey said. "The fact that Kass (Jump) was probably not 100 percent, but just battled for the team helped because it took the pressure off everybody else. All six of our kids in the singles were huge today, just huge." 

The win all but assured the Sun Devils of a 30th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. As of now, McInerney is looking forward to some well-earned rest.

"I am tired," McInerney said. "I will have a nice Easter Sunday and eat a lot of chocolate and chocolate bunnies tomorrow for sure."

Up Next:

The Sun Devils conclude the regular season against rival Arizona on April 22 in Tempe. 


Reach the reporter at jpjacqu1@asu.edu or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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