URBANA, Ill. — Nebraska’s Mary Weatherholt said she was at her best Saturday as she rolled over Georgia’s Lauren Henning 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tennis tournament.
“I had my game plan ready,” Weatherholt said.
It worked to perfection, sending Weatherholt into the semifinals Sunday afternoon against Alabama’s Alexa Guarachi. It’s the first semifinal appearance ever for a Husker. The match, which is expected to start around 1 p.m., may be seen on fightingillini.com.
Weatherholt, the tournament’s No. 14 seed, notched her third straight-set win in four matches. The senior from Prairie Village, Kan., has dropped just one set in the tournament, a 7-6 (4) tiebreaker in the opener of Friday’s quarterfinal win over UCLA’s Robin Anderson.
Weatherholt, 29-1, said she made decisions and stuck with them Saturday. There were no tentative moments at the start as there had been in some of her earlier victories.
“She was swinging for the fences,” NU associate head coach Hayden Perez said. “She was playing fearless.”
Weatherholt continued that strong play in her doubles match later Saturday with Patricia Veresova, but they lost a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3) heartbreaker to UCLA’s Anderson and Skylar Morton in the quarterfinals.
“It was a tough one,” Weatherholt said. “They were playing really well. Just a few points went their way.”
Weatherholt said the doubles match was actually fun because she and Veresova love a battle. But it marked the end of an era as the two senior All-Americans ended their final season together with a 22-3 record.
“It was sad mostly because it was our last match,” Weatherholt said.
A rain delay was about the only thing that disrupted Weatherholt’s play during the singles competition. The match started in a drizzle that got progressively worse, eventually sending the match to the Atkins Indoor Tennis Center with Weatherholt leading 3-2 in the first set.
Weatherholt and Perez played the card game Buck Euchre during the delay, and were nearly late for the resumption of the match because they didn’t hear the announcement. Weatherholt was getting trounced in cards, by the way.
When Perez relayed that news to head coach Scott Jacobson after the match, Jacobson said: “Way to keep her humble.”
Perez said Weatherholt handled the change in courts well and made short work of the first set. She was leading 3-0 in the second when Perez said she started thinking ahead to the finish and let Henning win two games before regaining her focus.
Henning, Perez said, seemed a little tentative and nervous, perhaps because of the pressure of playing on such a big stage.
That wasn’t a problem with Weatherholt, nor does he expect it to be on Sunday.
Guarachi, seeded No. 36, knocked off No. 41 Natalie Beazant from Rice, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. Sunday’s other semifinal match will pit No. 13 Natalie Gibbs of Stanford against No. 31 Breaunna Addison of Texas.
Gibbs, the defending NCAA singles champion, cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 16 Yana Koroleva of Clemson on Saturday, while Addison fought her way to a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti of North Carolina.
“She was fearless from start to finish,” Perez said. “She didn’t let the moment get to her.”