May 22, 2014
COMPLETE SAINT MARY'S RELEASE
ATHENS, Ga. -- Jenny Jullien's list of accomplishments already reads like an epic novel, but Thursday's win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament brought about one particular accolade that maybe means just a little bit more than the rest.
A strong start helped Jullien take the first set against USC's Giuliana Olmos and the two-time West Coast Conference Player of the Year dug deep to pull out a second-set tiebreak as she scored a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory to advance to the round of 16 in her final tournament as a Gael.
With the victory and subsequent berth in the round of 16, Jullien has now assured herself of All-America status. She becomes Saint Mary's first All-American in women's tennis and continues to add to her legacy as one of the Gaels' most accomplished athletes ever.
"Although I don't think I played my best tennis today, I know that I pushed myself farther than I ever have before," Jullien said. "Becoming an All-American has been my ultimate goal so today is a special day for me and my coaches."
Just as she did in her first round win on Wednesday, Jullien got off to a fast start against Olmos. She bolted out to a 3-1 lead, then increased that advantage before holding off a late charge to win the set 6-3.
Olmos rebounded in the second, building an early lead and putting Jullien on the defensive. That also followed the same script as Wednesday's match, but this time Jullien wasn't willing to concede the set as she fought back to pull into a 4-all tie. That turned into a 5-4 lead when a forehand up the line forced Olmos to try a moonball return that ultimately landed wide, giving Saint Mary's top player a break and left her serving for the match.
Proving just how strong a player she is, Olmos replied with a break of her own, squaring the match at 5-all and then holding serve to go up 6-5. Jullien held serve herself to tie the score at 6 and force a tiebreaker to decide the set.
After Olmos started the tiebreak with a forehand winner, Jullien took command with a five-point run that featured one key point in which she sprinted cross-court to return a strong shot from Olmos only to see the USC player send her own return long. Two unforced errors by Olmos pushed the score to 5-1 and left Jullien just two points shy of victory.
The two players battled back and forth for the next few points, with Olmos closing the gap and Jullien ultimately bringing up match point thanks to a well-placed backhand. Olmos got one point back but Jullien finished her win off with a high forehand volley and punched her ticket to Friday.
When she returns to the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, Jullien will be faced with yet another tough test. She'll take on North Carolina freshman Hayley Carter with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. Carter is seeded No. 7 in the tournament and was ranked No. 5 in the last ITA national rankings. Jullien is a 9-16 seed and is ranked No. 11 nationally. Start time for the match has yet to be announced.