RALEIGH, N.C. – The NC State women’s tennis team suffered its first conference loss of the season, a 4-3 setback, against top-ranked North Carolina Thursday evening at the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.
“I thought we did a great job today,” said head coach Hans Olsen. “On the circle of things that we’re working on, it was a good improvement and a huge step forward for us. It was a great college match and a great competition to be a part of.”
The Tar Heels took the first victory in doubles at the No. 2 spot, where Ashley Dai and Zoe De Bruycker collected an 8-4 win over the Wolfpack’s sophomore tandem comprised of Nicole Martinez and Elisha Hande. NC State responded in the No. 3 spot however, as the duo of senior Chloe Smith and sophomore Sophie Nelson fought their way to an 8-5 win over Lauren McHale and Gina Suarez-Malaguti.
With the victory, Smith and Nelson improved to 10-2 as a doubles team in dual matches this season.
In the No. 1 doubles match, senior Tatiana Illova and junior Joelle Kissell fell behind early, 6-2, to Whitney Kay and Caroline Price, but managed to cut the deficit to just two games at 7-5. North Carolina’s doubles unit held off the Wolfpack rally, picked up an 8-5 win and clinched the doubles point to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead in the overall match heading into singles.
Singles play began with a UNC victory in the No. 4 spot, as McHale defeated Martinez, 6-4, 6-2, to give the Tar Heels a 2-0 overall advantage.
Playing in the No. 1 spot, the 63rd-ranked Kissell cut NC State’s deficit in half with a 6-3, 6-2 upset victory over Malaguti – the nation’s fourth-ranked player. Kissell improved to 15-7 overall and 11-1 in dual singles matches this spring.
North Carolina received another lift from Price, the nation’s 30th-ranked player, when she defeated Smith, 6-0, 6-1, in the No. 5 spot to put UNC ahead, 3-1. The setback was Smith’s first in a dual singles contest this year.
The Tar Heels clinched the match a short while later when the 123rd-ranked Kay outlasted freshman Rachael James-Baker, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3, at the No. 3 spot.
Illova, playing in the No. 2 spot, pulled off the Wolfpack’s second upset of the day when she grinded out a tough three-set victory over the 36th-ranked De Bruycker. Illova won the first set, 6-3, but De Bruycker forced a third set after pulling out a 6-4 second-set triumph. Illova fought back with a 6-3 win in the final frame to push her singles record to 10-2 this season.
Playing in the No. 6 spot, Hande recorded NC State’s third upset in singles play with a 6-2, 1-6, 1-0 (10) victory over the 123rd-ranked Dai. The victory was Hande’s team-leading 17th on the year and improved her record to 8-4 in dual singles matches this season.
NC State will remain at home and host seventh-ranked Duke this Saturday, Mar. 23. First serve is scheduled for noon at the Curtis & Jacqueline Dail Outdoor Tennis Stadium.
Tennis Match Results
Mar 21, 2013 at Raleigh, N.C.
(J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center)
#1 North Carolina 4, #40 NC State 3
1. #63 Joelle Kissell (NCSU) def. #4 Gina Suarez-Malaguti (UNC) 6-3, 6-2
2. Tatiana Illova (NCSU) def. #36 Zoe DeBruycker (UNC) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
3. #23 Whitney Kay (UNC) def. Rachael James-Baker (NCSU) 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3
4. Lauren McHale (UNC) def. Nicole Martinez (NCSU) 6-3, 6-2
5. #30 Caroline Price (UNC) def. Chloe Smith (NCSU) 6-0, 6-1
6. Elisha Hande (NCSU) def. #123 Ashley Dai (UNC) 6-2, 1-6, 1-0 (12-10)
1. Whitney Kay/Caroline Price (UNC) def. Joelle Kissell/Tatiana Illova (NCSU) 8-5
2. Ashley Dai/Zoe DeBruycker (UNC) def. Elisha Hande/Nicole Martinez (NCSU) 8-4
3. Chloe Smith/Sophie Nelson (NCSU) def. Gina Suarez-Malaguti/Lauren McHale (UNC) 8-5
North Carolina 15-1, 2-0 ACC; National ranking #1
NC State 10-2, 1-1 ACC; National ranking #40
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (4,1,5,3,2,6)