WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - A magical year for Ole Miss women’s tennis senior Arianne Hartono continues, as she defeated Pepperdine’s Luisa Stefani in three sets to advance to the NCAA singles semifinals Saturday, at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
Hartono became the second player in program history to reach the NCAA Final Four in singles, joining four-time All-American Paloma Collantes, who accomplished the feat twice in her illustrious career.
Stefani broke right away to start the match and held for a 2-0 lead, but Hartono won six straight games to take the first set 6-2 and the early momentum.
In her previous three matches, Hartono did not drop a set, but Stefani was able to break at 3-3 in the second and serve it out for 6-4 to force a decisive third set.
Hartono came into Saturday having not lost a three-setter this year, and she wasn’t about to start with what could have been her last match as a Rebel. She held to start the third and then broke Stefani twice in a four-game span to go up 4-0. Serving 5-1, 40-30 a pop-up shower delayed the outcome for a little bit. Once play resumed, two balls hit the net and bounced back on Hartono’s side as Stefani broke for 5-2. Not wanting to let Stefani get a foot in the final set, Hartono broke right back to clinch it 6-2 and reach her first ever Final Four.
• Hartono improved to 35-6 on the year, and moved to a tie for fourth on the all-time single-season wins list.
• Hartono dropped her first set of the individual tournament, but improved to 6-0 in three-setters this year.
• The SEC Player of the Year is the second player in program history to reach the NCAA Final Four, joining four-time All-American Paloma Collantes who did it twice in the 90s.
• Hartono is the highest seed remaining in the tournament at No. 7.
• Hartono has won 15 straight matches, including 21 wins against ranked opponents.
Road to the Final Four…
First Round –  Hartono def. #20 Vladica Babic (OSU) 7-5, 7-5
Second Round –  Hartono def. #47 Vanessa Wong (UW) 6-0, 6-2
Round of 16 –  Hartono def. [9-16] Paige Hourigan (GT) 6-1, 6-2
Quarterfinals –  Hartono def. # 27 Luisa Stefani (PEPP) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
Courtside with Head Coach Mark Beyers…
“Incredible win for Ari today against one of the best players in college tennis. Ari battled through hot and humid conditions and was able to get off to a quick start in the third set to turn the momentum and pick up the win. We are really excited for her to do so well in her last collegiate tournament. For four years she has worked every single day, so to see that hard work pay off for her is awesome.”
Courtside with Arianne Hartono…
“Honestly, I have no words right now. I’m still kind of full of adrenaline from the match. I struggled a little bit after the first set, kind of stopped moving, and stopped trusting myself. But I did a good job picking myself up again and trusting my game and making my shots.”
On reaching the semifinals…
“It’s unbelievable. I’m thrilled to represent Ole Miss and keep our name out there.”
Hartono will face another Pepperdine player in Mayar Sherif, Sunday, for a spot in the championship match. This will be the first ever meeting between the two players.