No. 11 Wildcats Fall Just Short Against Top-Ranked Tar Heels, 4-3
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 11 Northwestern pushed top-ranked North Carolina to the limit but came up just short in the end, falling 4-3 Sunday afternoon at Combe Tennis Center.
Linda Abu Mushrefova and Veronica Corning each handed their ranked opponents their first dual meet loss of the season, but a narrow loss in double play was a key factor in preventing the Wildcats from pulling off the upset.
At No. 2, the UNC pairing of Ashley Dai and Zoe De Bruycker broke the serve of Belinda Niu and Kate Turvy twice right out of the gates in surging out to a 4-0 lead.
Meanwhile, at No. 3, it was the Wildcats who went up a break early as Corning and Alicia Barnett jumped out to a 4-2 lead over Tessa Lyons and Lauren McHale. The Northwestern duo was able to cruise the rest of the way as it was the first to finish, posting an 8-4 victory.
Watch Match Highlights
The Tar Heels finished things off at No. 2, 8-1, leaving things up to the matchup at No. 1. The eighth-ranked team of Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton fell behind by a break and trailed 5-2 but rallied back to break Caroline Price and Whitney Kay two times in a row and take a 6-5 lead.
However, UNC broke back, then held serve and had a pair of match points in the ensuing game, but the NU eventually held to make it 7-7. Both teams held to force a decisive tiebreaker and the Wildcats had a match point at 6-5, but Price and Kay took the next three points to win the doubles point in a thriller.
The Tar Heels increased their lead to 3-0 with singles wins at Nos. 2 and 4, but Northwestern was still in position to take the match as it took the first set in three of the remaining matches and was squared at a set apiece in the other.
Abu Mushrevova got NU on the board with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 124th-ranked Ashley Dai at the No. 6 spot. At No. 5, Brittany Wowchuk rallied back from a 5-2 deficit in the opening set to win it 7-5 before taking the second 6-4.
Niu, ranked No. 125, dropped her opening set to fourth-ranked Gina Suarez-Malaguti but cruised to a 6-2 win in the second to even her match. The pair split the first two games of the decisive third set, but the highly ranked Tar Heel managed to break Niu's serve twice en route to a 6-2 win that clinched the match for the visitors.
Corning finished off the competition by closing out 23rd-ranked Whitney Kay 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, giving the 'Cats their second win of the day over a previously undefeated player.
Northwestern returns to action at 1 p.m. Wednesday as it travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech.
#1 North Carolina 4, #11 Northwestern 3
1. Whitney Kay / Caroline Price (UNC) def. No. 8 Linda Abu Mushrevofa / Nida Hamilton (NU) 9-8 (8-6)
2. Ashley Dai / Zoe DeBruycker (UNC) def. Belinda Niu / Kate Turvy (NU) 8-1
3. Veronica Corning / Alicia Barnett (NU) def. Tessa Lyons / Lauren McHale (UNC) 8-4
Order of finish: 3, 2, 1*
1. No. 4 Gina Suarez-Malaguti def. No. 125 Belinda Niu (NU) 6-3, 2-6, 6-2
2. Zoe De Bruycker (UNC) def. No. 64 Kate Turvy (NU) 6-1, 6-2
3. Veronica Corning (NU) def. No. 23 Whitney Kay (UNC) 7-5, 4-6, 6-4
4. No. 30 Caroline Price (UNC) def. Alicia Barnett (NU) 6-3, 6-3
5. Brittany Wowchuk (NU) def. Lauren McHale (UNC) 7-5, 6-4
6. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU) def. No. 124 Ashley Dai 6-2, 6-4
Order of finish: 1, 4, 6, 5, 1*, 3