WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The NC State women’s tennis team continued its hot start to the 2013 campaign and remained unbeaten with a 5-2 victory over Wake Forest in its first ACC match of the season Saturday afternoon at the Wake Forest Indoor Tennis Complex.
The Wolfpack is now 7-0 for the first time since the 2006 season.
The afternoon began with doubles play, where senior Chloe Smith and sophomoreSophie Nelson continued to do what they do best – win at No. 3 doubles. The duo defeated Brigita Bercyte and Karen Forman, 8-3, and moved their record to 7-0 on the year.
Playing at the No. 2 spot in the doubles lineup, the sophomore tandem comprised of Elisha Hande and Nicole Martinez made easy work of Xue Zhang and Andrea Retolaza with an 8-3 victory of their own to push their record to 5-0 as a unit this spring, clinch the doubles point and give the Wolfpack a 1-0 lead over the Demon Deacons.
With the doubles point already in hand, junior Joelle Kissell and senior Tatiana Illovacompleted the doubles sweep with an 8-7 (2) win over Kathryn Talbert and Kasey Gardiner in the No. 1 spot. The victory was the sixth in a row for Kissell and Illova and improved their mark to 6-1 as a doubles pair this season.
The Wolfpack has not lost the doubles point once this year and owns an impressive 18-1 record as a team in dual doubles matches.
NC State (7-0, 1-0 ACC) applied a ton of pressure to Wake Forest (1-8, 0-2, ACC) from the instant singles play began, as Illova cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Gardiner in the No. 2 spot, and Hande defeated Retolaza, 6-2, 6-4, in the No. 5 spot, to give the Pack a 3-0 lead in the overall match.
Illova and Hande both improved to 6-1 in dual singles matches this spring, while Hande collected her team-leading 15th victory of the season.
The Demon Deacons showed some fight in the No. 1 spot, where Talbert took down Kissell, the nation’s 52nd-ranked player, 7-5, 6-4, to cut the Wolfpack lead to 3-1. The loss was just the first for Kissell in a dual singles match this year.
Wake Forest’s momentum was short-lived however, as freshman Rachael James-Baker improved her record to 6-0 in dual matches and outlasted Forman, 6-4, 7-6 (4), in the No. 4 spot to clinch the overall match and give NC State a 4-1 advantage.
James-Baker, a product of Plantation, Fla., has now clinched back-to-back dual matches, and Saturday’s win marked the fourth occasion in which she has accomplished the feat this season.
The Pack was not finished, as Smith, playing in the No. 6 spot, claimed a tough first set, 7-6 (2), over Brigita, before easing her way to a 6-1 second-set victory and extending NC State’s lead to 5-1.
Smith has won every match in dual singles play this season and owns a perfect 7-0 mark at the No. 6 spot in the lineup.
Martinez met Zhang in the No. 3 spot, and claimed a hard-fought first set, 7-5. Zhang responded with a 6-3 triumph in the second set, before grabbing a 10-1 victory in a third-set tie-break to win the match.
The Wolfpack will travel to Tampa, Fla., for its next match on Wednesday, Mar. 6, at the University of South Florida. The contest will be the team’s final non-conference road match of the year. First serve is set for 2 p.m.
Tennis Match Results
#45 NC State 5, Wake Forest 2
1. Kathryn Talbert (WF) def. #52 Joelle Kissell (NCSU) 7-5, 6-4
2. Tatiana Illova (NCSU) def. Kasey Gardiner (WF) 6-1, 6-2
3. Xue Zhang (WF) def. Nicole Martinez (NCSU) 5-7, 6-3, 1-0 (10-1)
4. Rachael James-Baker (NCSU) def. Karen Forman (WF) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
5. Elisha Hande (NCSU) def. Andrea Retolaza (WF) 6-2, 6-4
6. Chloe Smith (NCSU) def. Brigita Bercyte (WF) 7-6 (7-2), 6-1
1. Joelle Kissell/Tatiana Illova (NCSU) def. Kathryn Talbert/Kasey Gardiner (WF) 8-7 (7-2)
2. Elisha Hande/Nicole Martinez (NCSU) def. Xue Zhang/Andrea Retolaza (WF) 8-3
3. Chloe Smith/Sophie Nelson (NCSU) def. Brigita Bercyte/Karen Forman (WF) 8-3
NC State 7-0 (1-0 ACC); National ranking #45
Wake Forest 1-8 (0-2 ACC)
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2*,1); Singles (2,5,1,4*,6,3)