ACC tennis championships: UNC women, Duke men advance
A little more than a month ago, North Carolina’s women’s tennis team carried the nation’s No. 1 ranking into a match at rival N.C. State in Raleigh.
The Tar Heels, though the clear favorite, emerged with a hard-fought 4-3 win
That match resonated in the minds of UNC’s players in Friday morning when they met the Wolfpack again in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals at Cary Tennis Center.
The ACC regular-season champion and top-seeded Tar Heels, now ranked No. 2 in the country, prepped to be tested by the eighth-seeded Wolfpack.
“They are feisty, which is the same as us,” UNC player Gina Suarez-Malaguti said. “We were expecting a big fight. We were not taking them for granted at all. I’m proud of my team and how we played. We had tunnel vision.”
UNC’s mental edge was too much for N.C. State as the Tar Heels won 4-0 to advance into today’s semifinals.
After the Tar Heels (25-2) won the doubles point, they battled through tough match-ups in singles to claim the overall match.
Caroline Price and Lauren McHale, playing at No. 4 and No. 5, singles won their matches in straight sets. Price beat N.C. State’s Rachel James-Baker 6-2, 6-1. But McHale was pushed a little more before beating Elisha Hande 6-2, 6-4.
At No. 3, Whitney Kay had the tightest match of the three singles contests UNC won to clinch. Kay topped Chloe Smith 6-4, 7-6.
“I give credit to (the Wolfpack) and to our team for handling the situation,” UNC coach Brian Kalbas said. “The matches could have gone either direction. The first sets could have gone different directions. We were able to handle some of those sets that were tight.”
UNC advances to play Miami at 10 a.m. today.
The Tar Heels are looking to regain the nation’s No.1 computer ranking for next month’s NCAA Tournament. UNC held the No. 1 spot for 10 consecutive weeks before Florida moved to No. 1 this week after the Gators won the SEC Tournament.
The 10-week run at No. 1 was the longest in UNC’s program history.
In the men’s ACC Tournament Friday, No. 2 seeded Duke easily advanced with a 4-0 win over Florida State.
Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler defeated Florida State’s Blake Davis and Dominic Cotrone 8-4 while Fred Saba and Chris Mengel topped Anderson Reed and Jordan Kelly-Houston 8-4 to win the doubles point for Duke.
In singles, Hemmeler blitzed Davis 6-2, 6-2 at No. 5 before Duke’s Jason Tahir posted a 6-1 7-5 win at No.6 over Cristian Gonzales-Mendez.
At No. 3, Michael Redlicki clinched the match for Duke with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Kelly-Houston.
The Blue Devils (22-4) will meet Wake Forest in today’s 1 p.m. semifinal.
Also in Friday’s men’s tournament, eighth-seeded North Carolina saw its season end with a 4-0 loss to six-time defending ACC champion Virginia.
The Cavaliers won their 104th consecutive ACC match.