CARY, N.C. – Playing against the same opponent for the second time in 12 days, the NC State women’s tennis team defeated Boston College, 4-1, Thursday morning in the first round of the 2013 ACC Women’s Tennis Championship at the Cary Tennis Park.
NC State’s victory marks the third straight year it eliminated Boston College in the first round of the conference tournament.
“The team communicates really well and it makes a big difference in surging momentum,” said head coach Hans Olsen. “I thought that energy was great today.”
The Wolfpack took an early advantage in doubles action after the duo of senior Tatiana Illova and junior Joelle Kissell defeated Jessica Wacnik and Alex Kelleher, 8-6, in the No. 1 spot in the lineup. The duo improved their record to 12-7 on the year.
The Eagles responded in the No. 2 spot, where Olga Khmylev and Heini Salonen topped the Pack’s sophomore tandem of Elisha Hande and Nicole Martinez, 9-7.
With the doubles point hanging in the balance, senior Chloe Smith and sophomore Sophie Nelson found themselves in a tight battle against Wan-Yi Sweeting and Katya Vasilyev. Smith and Nelson trailed, 2-0, out of the gates, but responded to win the next three games for its first lead of the match. It was a back-and-forth battle between the two sides from that point on, but the Wolfpack tandem went on to seal an 8-6 victory, clinch the doubles point and give NC State a 1-0 lead heading into singles play.
The win pushed Smith and Nelson’s team-best record to 14-7 in dual matches this season.
NC State maintained its momentum heading into singles play with two quick victories at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. Illova, the nation’s 80th-ranked player, cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Wacnik in the No. 2 spot, while Smith defeated Kelly Barry by the same count in the No. 3 spot to give the Wolfpack a 3-0 advantage in the overall match.
Illova improved to 15-6 on the year and Smith moved her record to 15-5 in dual matches this season.
“Tati and Chloe have a lot of experience and they were both very sharp today,” Olsen said. “They did a great job closing their matches. They were very strong mentally, with their patterns and their shot selections. They were both excellent.”
The Eagles picked up its lone singles win on the day when Sweeting outlasted Martinez, 7-5, 6-4, in the No. 6 spot, but the Wolfpack delivered the final blow shortly after.
Playing in her first ACC Championship match, freshman Rachael James-Baker dropped the first set of her No. 4 singles match against Salonen, 6-3, but responded with a 6-4 second-set victory to force a decisive frame.
The Plantation, Fla., native went on to win the third set, 6-3, clinched the overall match for the seventh time this season and advanced the Wolfpack into Friday’s quarterfinals.
“It was a joy playing because I feel like I really grew as a person and as a tennis player today,” James-Baker said. “Coach [Susanne] Depka came over and she was telling me some technical things I had to do with my body to get the ball in. I had to be confident, I trusted her advice and I ended up winning.”
NC State will face top-seeded North Carolina (24-2, 10-1 ACC) in the ACC quarterfinals Friday, April 26 at 9 a.m., at the Cary Tennis Park.
Tennis Match Results
#47 NC State 4, #71 Boston College 1
1. #49 Joelle Kissell (NCSU) vs. Alex Kelleher (BC) 6-7 (4-7), 4-4, unfinished
2. #80 Tatiana Illova (NCSU) def. Jessica Wacnik (BC) 6-3, 6-4
3. Chloe Smith (NCSU) def. Kelly Barry (BC) 6-3, 6-4
4. Rachael James-Baker (NCSU) def. Heini Salonen (BC) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
5. Elisha Hande (NCSU) vs. Katya Vasilyev (BC) 3-6, 6-4, 3-4, unfinished
6. Wan-Yi Sweeting (BC) def. Nicole Martinez (NCSU) 7-5, 6-4
1. Joelle Kissell/Tatiana Illova (NCSU) def. #79 Alex Kelleher/Jessica Wacnik (BC) 8-6
2. Olga Khmylev/Heini Salonen (BC) def. Nicole Martinez/Elisha Hande (NCSU) 9-7
3. Chloe Smith/Sophie Nelson (NCSU) def. Wan-Yi Sweeting/Katya Vasilyev (BC) 8-6
Boston College 9-10, 3-7 ACC; National ranking #71
NC State 14-8, 4-7 ACC; National ranking #47
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,2,6,4)