WACO – In her first collegiate match, Baylor women’s tennis player Leolia JeanJean clinched a three-set victory to help the Lady Bears claim a 4-3 upset over No. 5 Georgia on Sunday at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.
Playing at the No. 4 singles position, the freshman from Montpellier, France found herself the center of attention as the Lady Bears and Bulldogs were tied 3-3 and she was playing in the lone remaining singles match.
JeanJean had won the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6(6), and then lost the second in another tiebreaker 6-7(5), before holding serve to go up 1-0 in the third when all eyes turned to her court.
From that point, JeanJean and Georgia’s Kennedy Shaffer battled back and forth. After each player broke to tie the set at 3-3 and then each held to tie it at 5-5, JeanJean held and then broke again to clinch the match and the overall team contest. Baylor fell down to start the match by dropping the doubles point against the Bulldogs.
“She is an incredible competitor. She is a warrior and got to show that pretty quickly,” Baylor head coach Joey Scrivano said of JeanJean. “Now it is just a matter of adding more tools to her game, but the fight and spirit is there. That as a coach is what you want to build off of.”
Ema Burgic and Blair Shankle got the Lady Bears off to a good start by winning 6-1 over Lauren Herring and Ellen Perez at the No. 1 spot. However, UGA picked up a 6-2 victory at the No. 3 position as Kelley Andersonand JeanJean lost to Caroline Brinson and Hannah King.
At that point, BU’s No. 2 duo of Rachael James-Baker and Kiah Generette battled back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the match, 4-4 against Silvia Garcia and Shaffer. The Lady Bears then broke to take a 5-4 lead, but lost the next three games to lose the match, 7-5, and the doubles point, two matches to one.
In singles action, Generette quickly squared the team match with a dominating 6-1, 6-2 victory over Perez at the No. 2 spot. The Bulldogs responded with a victory of their own on court 5 as Anderson was beaten by Hannah King, 6-1, 7-5.
Burgic, ranked No. 72, pulled the biggest upset of the day, blasting past 19th-ranked Herring, 6-2, 6-3 at the top of the lineup to even the match at two points apiece.
After dropping the opening set, 6-4, Blair Shankle responded at the No. 3 spot to win the next two sets, 6-2, 6-1, to push BU to the brink of victory at 3-2.
As the Shankle match was wrapping, James-Baker was down 3-4 in the third set on court 6 to Brinson and JeanJean was tied 5-5 in the second set.
UGA knotted the score again as Brinson downed James-Baker, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(5) to turn the attention to JeanJean who had lost the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-5, after leading it 3-0.
“I am really proud of the way the girls fought today,” Scrivano said. “They showed a lot of heart and spirit. They have put in a lot of work and it is paying off.”
Baylor will resume its home slate on Saturday, Jan. 24 by taking on No. 6 Virginia at 6 p.m. at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center. The Bear Cub Tennis Program will again be hosted an hour before the match at 5 p.m. for children 11-years of age and under to receive free tennis instruction.