Unseeded Keri Phebus of UCLA upset top-seeded Laxmi Poruri of Stanford, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, Friday to advance to the singles finals of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships.
Phebus, a former Corona del Mar High star, defeated her Pac-10 rival for the first time and will meet No. 3 Angela Lettiere of Georgia in today’s championship match. Lettiere defeated Mississippi’s Paloma Collantes for the third time this year in the other semifinal, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.
“A lot of people have doubted my ability, and I always seem to be seeded lower,” Phebus said. “This was more of a battle from within. I wanted this for myself. I didn’t want to get too wrapped up in what everybody else has been expecting from me.”
With the title match between a Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference player, the NCAA champion will come from one of those two conferences for the 13th consecutive year. The Pac-10 has won eight titles, the SEC four.
“I was tired today,” Poruri said. “I played my game plan the whole way through, and today the fatigue finally got to me. I was exhausted. I lost the match more than she won it.”
Phebus (32-7) carries a seven-match winning streak into the final.
Lettiere (45-14) said the turning point came when she trailed, 3-5, in the first-set tiebreaker and came up with a good volley to win the point.
“After the tiebreaker, I think she started getting down,” Lettiere said. “She’s the type of player that can make winners from anywhere on the court.”
In the doubles quarterfinals, Phebus and teammate Susie Starrett were defeated by Rebecca Jensen and Nora Koves of Kansas, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).