NC State Women Make History
The NC State women’s tennis team advanced to the NCAA Final Four Wednesday, marking the program’s first-ever national semifinals appearance. The Wolfpack continued its historic run through the NCAA DI Women’s Tennis Championships, upsetting No. 3 Georgia, 4-2 in what was also the first quarterfinals appearance in program history.
NC State flexed its doubles muscles, clinching the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead but Georgia got on the board as Katarina Jokic won 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 singles over NC State’s Anna Rogers in a battle of ITA Top 10 players. Adriana Reami and Jaeda Daniel gave NC State a 3-1 advantage with wins on Courts No. 3 and No. 4 before Georgia’s Elena Christofi won at No. 6 singles to make the score 3-2. Wolfpack freshman Abigail Rencheli won a tough second-set tiebreak to clinch the match with a 6-3, 7-6(6) win on Court No. 5.
“I think we came into this tournament wanting to win,” said NC State Freshman Abigail Rencheli. “I don’t think necessarily we 100 percent believed that we could or would. Now that we’re in the semis, it’s definitely getting a lot more real. I’m ready to play the next round. I think we’re going to go out and play our hearts out. That’s the difference. We didn’t come here to make the semis. We came here to win.”
TEXAS…that is all!
“It feels fantastic for our team and for our program, to be back in the Final Four,” Texas Head Coach Howard Joffe said about making it to the semifinals. “It’s a bit of uncharted territory for a good decade, and then some.”
Texas won the doubles point and quickly built a 2-0 lead after a dominating 6-0, 6-1, win by Peyton Stearns on the No. 1 court. Not long after that, Anna Turati gave Texas a 3-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 2 singles. After Texas swept all six opening sets, a number of players were in a position to clinch the match but senior Fernanda Labraña sealed the deal with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win on Court No. 6 to send the Longhorns onto the semifinals.
Longest & Most Dramatic Match of the Tournament
The No. 5 Pepperdine Waves knocked off crosstown rival No. 4 UCLA in a thrilling four-plus hour match to reach the semifinals at the NCAA DI Women’s Tennis Championships for the first time in program history.
The drama started in doubles as the duo of Ashley Lahey and Lisa Zar won a tiebreaker 10-8 at No. 1 doubles to secure the doubles point for the Waves. In a sign of how the match would unfold, three of the six singles matches went to first-set tiebreakers, though UCLA’s Abi Altick quickly wrapped up her match on Court No. 5, winning 6-2, 6-3, to get the Bruins on the board. Annette Goulak won on Court No. 6, 7-6(4), 6-3 to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead and Elysia Bolton had a match point that would’ve given UCLA a 3-1 lead at No. 3 singles. However, Pepperdine’s Taisiya Pachkaleva rallied from down 5-4 in the third set to win the set 7-5 and, instead, tie the match up at 2-2. Moments later Jessica Failla put Pepperdine back ahead with a 7-6(7), 6-4 win at No. 2 singles, but UCLA’s Abbey Forbes would prevail on Court No. 1 to tie the match at 3-3. All eyes turned to Court No. 4, which had just entered the third set, as Shiori Fukuda willed her way to a 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-2 win to send Pepperdine to its first-ever NCAA semifinal.
“I think our team is able to compete with anyone,” said Pepperdine Head Coach Per Nilsson. “We’ve shown that in the past and we’ve shown that this year. A lot of times we get in our own way, especially at the beginning of the year, and that’s something we’ve talked about a lot. If we just take care of business, focus on the things that we can control, we’re a good team and that’s what we’re going to have to do against whoever we play next.”
Kickin’ It ACC Style
In a match that ended after 1 a.m. early Thursday morning and that was much closer than the final scoreline reflects, the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels survived an upset bid by archrival Duke, winning 4-1, to advance to the semifinals.
North Carolina won the doubles point and an impressive 6-1, 6-0 win by Fiona Crawley on Court No. 5 put the Tar Heels up 2-0. Elsewhere, Duke won first sets in four of the other singles matches and looked prepared to potentially hand the undefeated Tar Heels their first loss of the season. Chloe Beck put Duke on the board with a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 3 singles, but, from there, North Carolina showed why they are the tournament’s top seed, rallying to force third sets on three courts. After dropping her first set, Reilly Tran cruised to a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 win on Court No. 6 to put North Carolina within one win of advancing. Super senior Makenna Jones, who did not play singles in North Carolina’s Round of 16 win, rallied from dropping the first set 6-0 to win 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Court No. 4 to send the Tar Heels to the semifinals.
“I have to be calm for them to be calm,” UNC Head Coach Brian Kalbas said when asked about staying calm throughout the match. “That’s the nature of it. You see some of these coaches that I try and marvel after and I just try to do my part and if I get too excited or riled up or depressed or emotionally, it is going to feed down. So all credit to the players, they did an incredible job and I am so proud of them.
How to Watch, Keep Score, & More
The women’s semifinals will be available via broadcast on the Tennis Channel. For more information about the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s & Women’s Championship, broadcast and live stream coverage, and match times, follow us on social at ITA_Tennis (Twitter) and you can always check back here. Check out more from the USTA National Campus.
A limited number of tickets are available for purchase by the general public for the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships at the USTA National Campus. The Campus is permitted to allow up to 80% fan seating capacity per the NCAA’s updated fan attendance policy for outdoor championships. Tickets are available for purchase here. Fans are encouraged to buy tickets early as the very limited number of tickets are expected to sell out quickly for many of the sessions.
Directions to the USTA National Campus
The USTA National Campus is located at 10000 USTA Blvd. in Orlando, Florida. It is nestled in the Lake Nona community and can be reached by calling (844) 872-8667.