RALEIGH, N.C. - Behind some late heroics by senior Chloe Smith, the NC State women's tennis team outlasted a gritty Winthrop team, 4-3, Friday evening at J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.
With the match tied, 3-3, Smith was dead-locked in the No. 6 singles match, where she grabbed a quick 6-2 win in the first set over Tijana Uzelac, but dropped a tough second set, 7-5. The Naples, Fla., native bounced back from a 4-3 deficit in the frame to take the final three games, clinch the match and send the Wolfpack fans and teammates into jubilation.
The Pack got off to a quick start, as the duo comprised of junior Joelle Kissell and seniorTatiana Illova played a near-flawless No. 1 doubles, cruising past Yasmine Alkema and Andressa Garcia, 8-0. Playing together in the No. 1 spot, Kissell and Illova have now won four-straight matches.
NC State (5-0) was just as dominant in the No. 2 spot, as the sophomore tandem ofElisha Hande and Nicole Martinez eased their way to an 8-1 win over Alice Garcia and Giovanna Portioli, while clinching the doubles point and giving the Wolfpack a 1-0 lead over the Eagles. With the win, Hande and Martinez improved to 5-0 as a doubles team in dual-match play.
Smith and sophomore Sophie Nelson completed the doubles sweep with an 8-4 victory over Caitlin Cridland and Tijana Uzelac in the No. 3 spot, improving their record to 5-0 in dual doubles matches this season.
In singles play, freshman Rachael James-Baker pushed the NC State lead to 2-0 with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Portioli in the No. 4 spot. James-Baker improved her dual singles record to 4-0 with the win.
Illova, playing at the No. 3 spot in the lineup, cruised to a 6-1 first-set victory over Alice Garcia, but the lead would be short-lived, as Garcia went on to take the final two sets, 6-1, 6-1, to cut the Winthrop deficit in half.
Ranked 40th in the ITA singles poll, Kissell met her first ranked opponent in a dual match this season, when she took on Alkema, the 107th-ranked player in the No. 1 singles match. The Hostetter, Pa., native powered her way to a 6-2, first-set win, but found herself in a hole, down 4-0 in the second set. Kissell stormed back to take seven of the next eight games and win the second set, 7-5, to extend the Wolfpack lead to 3-1 in the overall match.
The Eagles inched closer after Andressa Garcia outlasted Martinez in a three-set battle, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3, at the No. 2 spot, before Cridland outlasted Hande in another three-set decision, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 to tie the overall match, 3-3.
At the time the match on court five ended and tied the overall match at three, Smith trailed Uzelac, 4-3 in the final set. The senior captain would not let her teammates down, as Smith went on to take the final three games and clinch the match for NC State.
The Wolfpack returns to action at the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center on Sunday, Feb. 24, when it hosts Long Beach State at 10 a.m.
#73 NC State 4, Winthrop 3
1. #40 Joelle Kissell (NCSU) def. #107 Yasmine Alkema (WUW) 6-2, 7-5
2. Andressa Garcia (WUW) def. Nicole Martinez (NCSU) 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3
3. Alice Garcia (WUW) def. Tatiana Illova (NCSU) 1-6, 6-1, 6-1
4. Rachael James-Baker (NCSU) def. Giovanna Portioli (WUW) 7-5, 6-2
5. Caitlin Cridland (WUW) def. Elisha Hande (NCSU) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
6. Chloe Smith (NCSU) def. Tijana Uzelac (WUW) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
1. Joelle Kissell/Tatiana Illova (NCSU) def. Yasmine Alkema/Andressa Garcia (WUW) 8-0
2. Elisha Hande/Nicole Martinez (NCSU) def. Giovanna Portioli/Alice Garcia (WUW) 8-1
3. Chloe Smith/Sophie Nelson (NCSU) def. Caitlin Cridland/Tijana Uzelac (WUW) 8-4
NC State 5-0; National ranking #73
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (4,3,1,2,5,6)