Tar Heels Steal the Spotlight on Day Two of 2013 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship

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Tar Heels Steal the Spotlight on Day Two of 2013 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship
Sixth seeded North Carolina upsets third seeded USC in a 4-3 thriller

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (Feb. 9) – The final four teams are set at the 2013 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the University of Virginia at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, VA.  UCLA, Duke, Georgia and North Carolina will all be vying for a spot in Monday’s championship match.

In the day’s most exciting match, No. 6 seeds North Carolina claimed a spot in the semifinals by taking down No. 3 seeds USC, 4-3.  After dropping the doubles point yesterday, a hungry USC team came back today to take the doubles point in convincing fashion against the Tar Heels, winning 8-3 at both first and third doubles.   “USC came out with a lot of intensity and played well in doubles” said North Carolina head coach Brian Kalbas.  “We were kind of put on our heels and did not come out with the level of play we are accustomed to in doubles, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into singles.”

North Carolina’s Caroline Price leveled the match at 1-1 as she made quick work of Giuliana Olmos at fifth singles, winning 6-2, 6-2.  Shortly after, USC would go up 3-1 with a pair of wins at first and second singles and seemed to be poised for another ITA National Women’s Team Indoor semifinal appearance.

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Ashley Dai of North Carolina made it 3-2 with a 6-2, 6-3 win at sixth singles.  Shortly after that was a crucial 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 win by Lauren McHale at fourth singles.  McHale trailed 4-2 in the third set but pieced together four straight games, putting the match in the hands of a freshman, No. 21 Whitney Kay.  Kay won the first set against No. 19 Zoe Scandalis 6-2 but fell in the second, 7-5 and would find herself in an early hole in the third set, trailing 3-0.   With enormous pressure, Kay responded like a seasoned veteran, rallying off six straight games to give North Carolina the 4-3 win.  “USC is definitely one of the deepest teams in the nation, so for us to win three through six is a major accomplishment for our team” said Kalbas.  “I’m real proud of Lauren and Whitney and the whole team for coming up with such a great victory against a great team.”

No. 2 seeds Duke defeated Northwestern to become the first team on the day to advance to the semifinals.  Today’s win marks the second Duke victory over the Wildcats in the past week, only today’s match was more closely contested as the Blue Devils won 4-1.  “We played them literally five days ago, so it wasn’t an easy thing for us to come out and play them again” said Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth.

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After trailing on both courts, Duke’s top two doubles teams pulled out a pair of close 8-7 wins to give the Blue Devils a 1-0 advantage entering the singles matches.   “I thought we did a good job in the doubles, coming back when we were down on a couple of courts” stated Ashworth.  “I thought getting the win at first doubles was just a huge momentum swing for us and the other courts fed off of it.  I thought we had to get the doubles point to not give them any kind of momentum or belief that they could win in the singles.”

Ester Goldfeld set the tone in singles for the Blue Devils as she jumped all over Northwestern’s Brittany Wowchuk, winning 6-2, 6-1.  “Getting a quick win in singles from Ester was big for us” raved Ashworth.  From there, Northwestern earned a win at fourth singles but that would be it as Duke clinched the match with wins at fifth and sixth singles. 

The top seeded Bruins of UCLA became the next team to move into the semifinals as they fought their way to a 4-2 win over a scrappy Miami team.  UCLA dug an early hole as Miami took the opening doubles point with wins at first and third doubles.  “Our performance was not what we are used to seeing but I have to give Miami credit because they came out and outplayed us” said UCLA head coach Stella Sampras-Webster.  “Going into the singles we had to understand that this was just one point.”

Refocused, UCLA took two quick singles points as sixth ranked Robin Anderson and Kyle McPhillips earned 6-0, 6-2 wins at first and second singles respectively.  “Robin has just been dominating” said Sampras-Webster.  “She loves indoors and loves playing here because she has a huge serve so she’s comfortable here.”  Anderson has won 24 of 26 games played in this year’s tournament. 

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UCLA’s Chanelle Van Nguyen quickly made it 3-1 in favor of the Bruins but Miami’s Clementina Riobueno brought the Canes to within one as she earned a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Skylar Morton at the sixth spot.  Today’s match was ultimately decided at fifth singles as UCLA’s Catherine Harrison edged Stephanie Wagner in a pair of tiebreaks, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3).  “Miami is known for being warriors so I was really proud and pleased with the way our girls competed today” said Sampras-Webster.

Fourth seeded Georgia was the third team to reach the semifinals by topping Cal, 4-1.  Not wasting a second, the Bulldogs of Georgia rushed out to a 1-0 lead by dominating the doubles action, winning 8-2 and 8-1 at first and third singles respectively.  “I felt like our doubles today was just outstanding” said Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace. “We did a really good job to set the tone early.”

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Cal’s Zsofi Susanyi, ranked seventh in the ITA Women’s College Tennis Rankings, evened the match at one-all by closing out Georgia’s 18th ranked Maho Kowase, 6-0, 6-4 at first singles.  However, Georgia proved to be too deep for the Golden Bears as the Bulldogs claimed wins at third, fifth and sixth singles.  “In singles we had three freshmen step up big to basically clinch the win for us” said Wallace. “It was a well-played match by every player on our team and an overall great team effort.  We’re thrilled, we’re excited and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”  

Today’s 9:00 a.m. matches were some of the most exciting matches played today.  For the second day in a row, Nebraska took a 1-0 lead into singles play by winning the doubles point.  Looking to change the momentum, Vanderbilt won singles matches at third, fourth and sixth singles while Nebraska picked up a win at the fifth spot, trailing 3-2. 

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In a similar position as yesterday, Nebraska found themselves with their backs against the wall with just two singles matches left to decide their fate.  Mary Weatherholt tied the match at 3-3 with a convincing 6-1, 6-4 win at the first spot, leaving the match in Patricia Veresova’s hands.  After winning the first set at 6-4, Versova was unable to hang on to the second, falling 6-4 before clinching the match at 6-3 in the third, giving their Huskers their first win in school history at the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship.  

Alabama was dominant in doubles play against Baylor, collecting a pair of 8-1 victories, neither of which came from its second-ranked duo, to take the opening point of the dual match. Antonia Foehse and Maya Jansen were first to record a win, defeating Alex Leatu and Victoria Kisialeva at the second spot. Yasmeen Ebada and Emily Zabor finished not long after, cruising past Megan Horter and Alabama transfer Alex Clay at the third position.

In singles action, Crimson Tide freshman Natalia Maynetto, breezed to an easy 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Leatu at the sixth spot. Fellow freshman Jansen, was next to give the Crimson Tide a point thanks to her 6-3, 6-3 win over Jordaan Sanford.

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That put Alabama ahead 3-0 overall, but the Bears would mount a serious rally, which started at the top of the lineup when 16th-ranked sophomore Ema Burgic won a lengthy three-setter against 12th-ranked Mary Anne Macfarlane 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. Horter delivered the biggest triumph of the day for Baylor, upsetting 13th-ranked Alexa Guarachi 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-2. The Bears then evened the dual match score at 3-3 by virtue of Kiah Generette’s victory over Emily Zabor in three sets. The back and forth battle at the fourth position would decide it, and it was Foehse who was able to clinch the win for the Crimson Tide by slipping past Kisialeva 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-1. 

Not guaranteed to play each other every season due to conference realignment, Texas and Texas A&M renewed their in-state rivalry Saturday night. The Longhorns took the lead against their SEC opponents, winning close contests at the first and second positions for the doubles point. Freshman Breaunna Addison and Noel Scott were able to shock seventh-ranked Cristina Stancu and Stefania Hristov at the top spot 8-6, while Elizabeth Begley and Aeriel Ellis fought past Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun by the same score.

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In a battle of seniors at the top of the singles lineup, third-ranked Sanchez-Quintanar defeated Ellis 6-2, 6-2 to even the score. Hristov was next off court, delivering a 6-3, 6-1 victory at the sixth position to give her team a 2-1 lead, but that was short lived thanks to Begley cruising past the Aggies’ Maria Ines Deheza  6-1, 6-1 at the fourth spot. Nazari Urbina put Texas A&M ahead for good when she beat Addison 6-3, 6-3 at the third position, and Stancu clinched the 4-2 win for the Aggies with her 6-4, 7-6 triumph over Texas’ Scott.

The last match of the night featured host Virginia against Michigan.  Brooke Bolender and Emina Bektas of Michigan won at first doubles 8-3 but Virginia responded with an 8-4 victory at the three spot behind the play of Julia Elbaba and Hana Tomljanovic.  With both teams just one win away from taking the doubles point, it would be Michigan’s Ronit Yurovsky and Sarah Lee who would upset Virginia’s fifth ranked team of Erin Vierra and Maci Epstein to take a 1-0 lead into singles action. 

Amy Zhu

Michigan would go up 2-0 behind a straight set win by Yuovsky but Virginia rallied with wins at third and sixth singles to even the match at 2-2.  Amy Zhu put the Wolverines ahead with a 6-2, 6-4 win at fifth singles, putting Michigan just one point away from a victory.  The focus of the match then turned to first and fourth singles as both matches went into a third set.  Sarah Lee proved to be too strong as she pulled out the win in a breaker, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5). 

Play continues on Sunday, February 10th at 9:00 am ET.

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