CHAPEL HILL --- No. 4 North Carolina advanced to the final site of the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championship for the second year in a row Saturday with a 4-1 win over No. 28 Washington at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. Zoe De Bruycker, Lauren McHale and Gina Suarez-Malaguti were singles winners for the Tar Heels, who will travel to Stanford, Calif., looking to improve upon last season's program-best run to the national semifinals.
UNC (25-5) went in front right away thanks to a strong doubles point. The sophomore tandem of De Bruycker and Suarez-Malaguti made quick work of Andrijana Pavlovic and Vanja Radunovic on court three, cruising to an 8-1 win. Jelena Durisic and Tessa Lyons then sealed the point on court two with an 8-3 victory over Denise Dy and Alexandra Krsljanin.
Just as they had done in the earlier in the season against Washington, the Tar Heels capitalized on the doubles momentum to quickly gain the advantage in singles.
McHale dropped just three games on court four in giving UNC a 2-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Krsljanin.
De Bruycker then finished off one of the best wins over her All-America season, defeating No. 4-ranked Dy in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5. The match was De Bruycker's second victory over a top-five opponent in 2011 and only the second loss of the spring for Dy, who beat the Tar Heel sophomore 6-2, 6-2 in February.
Washington (13-11) got its lone point of the day at No. 2 singles, as No. 16 Venise Chan topped No. 108 Durisic, 6-4, 7-5, to make it 3-1.
From the there the remaining drama came down to who would score the clinching victory to send the Tar Heels back to the NCAA round of 16 for the second consecutive season.
With Lyons splitting sets with Pavlovic on court six, Suarez-Malaguti and Shinann Featherston were each vying to notch the final point. The two ultimately played simultaneous match points on courts three and five, with Suarez-Malaguti clinching her win over Pavlovic at No. 5, 6-3, 7-5. Featherston nearly made the final score 5-1, but Samantha Smith hit a clean winner to save a match point and, with threatening weather in the area, play was quickly halted.
Carolina will now travel to Stanford, Calif., where the Tar Heels will play Friday, May 20, at 6 p.m. ET against the winner of the match between No. 13 Tennessee and Vanderbilt. More details about the round of 16 match will be available next week.
No. 4 North Carolina 4, Washington 1
1.#7 McHale/Featherston (UNC) vs. Chan/Smith (UW), 6-3
2. Durisic/Lyons (UNC) def. #63 Dy/Krsljanin (UW), 8-3
3. Suarez-Malaguti/De Bruycker (UNC) def. Pavlovic/Radunovic (UW), 8-1
Order of finish: 3, 2
1. #13 Zoe De Bruycker (UNC) def. #4 Denise Dy (UW), 6-1, 7-5
2. #16 Venise Chan (UW) def. #108 Jelena Durisic (UNC), 6-4, 7-5
3. #74 Shinann Featherston (UNC) vs. Samantha Smith (UW), 6-4, 5-2
4. Lauren McHale (UNC) def. Alexandra Krsljanin (UW), 6-1, 6-2
5. Gina Suarez-Malaguti (UNC) def. Andrijana Pavlovic (UW), 6-3, 7-5
6. Tessa Lyons (UNC) vs. Andrijana Pavlovic (UW), 4-6, 6-3
Order of finish: 4, 1, 2, 5*