ATHENS, Ga. -- One of the most accomplished individual careers in Saint Mary's Athletics history came to a close Friday as women's tennis player Jenny Jullien battled gamely with No. 5-ranked Hayley Carter of North Carolina but ultimately dropped a 7-5, 6-2 decision in the NCAA Tournament round of 16.
Having already won two matches at the NCAA Tournament, Jullien ensured that she will be named an ITA All-American at the end of the season. She defeated Michigan's Ronit Yurovsky in the first round, then beat USC's Giuliana Olmos in the second to advance to Friday's round of 16.
There, she faced a player in Carter that has spent her entire freshman season near the top of the national rankings. Carter entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed and, for most of the first set, couldn't separate from the West Coast Conference Player of the Year as the two battled on serve to 5-all. Finally though, UNC's phenom got the break she needed, going up 6-5 and then holding serve to close out a 7-5 set victory and take the early lead.
The second set stayed close for a few games before Carter got her second break point of the match to go up 3-2. She only got stronger from there and, though Jullien fought to stay in it, the match came to a close and Carter advanced to Saturday's quarterfinals.
By reaching the round of 16, Jullien capped a year that will go down as one of the great single seasons in SMC history. It started in the fall, as the native of Perpignan, France won her first five matches at the ITA Northwest Regional to become the first Saint Mary's tennis player ever to reach the finals of that event.
Thanks to her performance at Regionals, Jullien earned an invitation to the prestigious USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing, N.Y. There, she won two matches to reach the quarterfinal round, establishing herself yet again as one of the nation's top players.
That fact was reflected in the first ITA national rankings of the spring, as Jullien began her final season as a Gael ranked No. 7 in the nation. That ranking stands as the highest a Saint Mary's tennis player has ever been ranked nationally. Jullien wasted no time in justifying her lofty standing, winning her first seven decisions of the spring in a stretch that included a victory over the player she lost to in the ITA Regional final, No. 5-ranked Kristie Ahn of Stanford.
Jullien's strong play continued into WCC play and she finished her final regular season 7-1 in conference play. That record was good enough to earn her a second straight WCC Player of the Year award and she eventually went on to earn Most Improved Senior in the Northwest region honors from the ITA. She was also named to the All-WCC Academic team for the second straight season.