Tar Heel women advance to NCAA tennis Final Four
North Carolina’s Hayley Carter gave herself quite a birthday present Saturday.
In the quarterfinals of the NCAA women’s tennis championships, the now 19-year-old freshman closed out a three-set win at No. 2 singles to give No. 7 North Carolina a 4-2 quarterfinal victory over second-ranked Alabama at Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The Tar Heels (28-5) earned the program’s second trip ever to the Final Four, joining the 2010 squad, and will face No. 3 Virginia at 1 p.m. Monday.
“It’s amazing,” Carter said after beating Alabama’s Danielle Spielmann, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. “I don’t think the birthday could get any better.”
It didn’t start out great. Carter and No. 1 doubles partner Jamie Loeb, the No. 3 team in the nation, lost for the first time this spring, ending a 17-0 run. Still, UNC was able to earn the doubles point with wins from Ashley Dai and Tessa Lyons at No. 3 and the 13th-ranked tandem of Caroline Price and Whitney Kay at No. 2, who won in a tiebreaker.
Carolina won the first set in four of the six singles matches, but little came easy against the Crimson Tide (25-5). Alabama drew even with a win at No. 4 singles, but Loeb, the No. 1 player in the nation, put UNC back up with a victory at No. 1.
Kate Vialle made it 3-1 Tar Heels with a win at No. 5 before the Tide got a win at No. 3 to make it 3-2. Carter broke Spielmann to open the third set at No. 2 and stayed in command the rest of the way.
“I’m really proud of how we fought,” UNC coach Brian Kalbas said, “and stayed hungry the whole way.”
No. 7 North Carolina 4, No. 2 Alabama 2
(At Athens, Ga.)
DOUBLES — 1. No. 4 Maya Jansen/Erin Routliffe (A) def. No. 3 Jamie Loeb/Hayley Carter (UNC), 8-5; 2. No. 13 Whitney Kay/Caroline Price (UNC) def. No. 39 Mary Anne Daines/Danielle Spielmann (A), 8-7(5); 3. Ashley Dai/Tessa Lyons (UNC) def. No. 71 Luicelena Perez/Emily Zabor (A), 8-2
SINGLES — 1. No. 1 Jamie Loeb (UNC) def. No. 65 Mary Anne Daines (A), 6-2, 6-3; 2. No. 5 Hayley Carter (UNC) def. No. 93 Danielle Spielmann (A), 6-3, 3-6, 6-2; 3. No. 77 Erin Routliffe (A) def. No. 59 Caroline Price (UNC), 6-4, 7-6(3); 4. No. 110 Maya Jansen (A) def. Whitney Kay (UNC), 6-4, 6-3; 5. Kate Vialle (UNC) def. Emily Zabor (A), 6-1, 6-4; 6. No. 109 Luicelena Perez (A) vs. Tessa Lyons (UNC), 4-6, 7-5, 0-1, unf.
Records — North Carolina 28-5, Alabama 25-5.