RALEIGH, N.C. - The NC State women's tennis team improved to 9-0 on the season - its best start in school history - with a 6-1 win over UNC Wilmington Friday afternoon at the Curtis and Jaqueline Dail Outdoor Stadium.
"It has been a great week," said head coach Hans Olsen. "The start has been awesome and the team is doing a great job and really trying to learn and improve every week. It's been really enjoyable. They've been doing really well."
In doubles play, the Wolfpack duo of Tatiana Illova and Joelle Kissell cruised to an 8-2 win over UNCW's Angie Sekely and Olga Blank at the No. 1 spot in the lineup. At No. 2 doubles, Elisha Hande and Nicole Martinez proved to be too much for Kelly Cameron and Miller Hales, as they went on to win, 8-2, and clinch the doubles point for the Pack. NC State has now won the doubles point in each match this season.
"There's a good, competitive energy to play better and train harder," said senior Chloe Smith - a captain of this year's squad. "Everyone has been working so hard, it's great."
State carried the momentum it built into singles, as the Pack won the first two singles matches decided, to push the lead to 3-0. Illova made quick work of Christina Riley at the No. 2 spot, as she never trailed en route to a 6-1, 6-0 victory. Smith, playing in the No. 6 spot, remained undefeated on the season in singles play with a straight-set win against Christine Kharkevich, 6-2, 6-2.
"A couple people really stood out," Olsen said. "Chloe has been so tough on the court and she was decisive on her court today. She has really been a rock out there match-in and match-out."
Smith, a senior from Naples, Fla., improved to 9-0 on the season with her victory, and credits her focus to her impressive start.
"I think preparing mentally before each match has been helping," Smith said. "I've been taking it one point at a time and not looking too far ahead or too far behind."
The Seahawks responded to the Wolfpack's two victories to start singles play with a win at the No. 5 spot in the lineup to cut their deficit to 3-1. UNCW's Alyssa Ritchie topped Hande, 6-0, 7-6 (2).
Kissell, ranked 52nd nationally, responded with a win at the No. 1 spot to clinch the match. The junior dropped the first set, 6-4, but came roaring back to win the second set, 6-2, before winning the decisive third set, 6-1. Freshman Rachael James-Baker followed with a hard-fought win at No. 3 singles, defeating Cameron in three sets. James-Baker lost the first set, 6-3, but regrouped to win the second set, 6-4, and sweep the third set, 6-0.
Martinez closed out the match with a win at the No. 4 spot against Blank. The Quito, Ecuador, native won the first set, 7-5, before claiming a tough second set, 7-6 (3), to push the Pack's advantage to 6-1.
"I think playing every point on every court, in every set in every match - from beginning all the way to end - has been a strength for us," Olsen said. "I thought today was just another one of those days."
NC State will return to action Thursday, Mar. 14, when it hosts Virginia Commonwealth at 4 p.m.
Tennis Match Results
Mar 08, 2013 at Raleigh, N.C.
(Dail Outdoor Tennis Stadium)
#33 NC State 6, UNC Wilmington 1
1. #52 Joelle Kissell (NCSU) def. Angie Sekely (UNCW) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
2. Tatiana Illova (NCSU) def. Christina Riley (UNCW) 6-1, 6-0
3. Rachael James-Baker (NCSU) def. Kelly Cameron (UNCW) 3-6, 6-4, 6-0
4. Nicole Martinez (NCSU) def. Olga Blank (UNCW) 7-5, 7-6 (7-3)
5. Alyssa Ritchie (UNCW) def. Elisha Hande (NCSU) 6-0, 7-6 (7-2)
6. Chloe Smith (NCSU) def. Christine Kharkevich (UNCW) 6-2, 6-2
1. Joelle Kissell/Tatiana Illova (NCSU) def. Angie Sekely/Olga Blank (UNCW) 8-2
2. Nicole Martinez/Elisha Hande (NCSU) def. Kelly Cameron/Miller Hales (UNCW) 8-2
3. Alyssa Ritchie/Christine Kharkevich (UNCW) def. Chloe Smith/Sophie Nelson (NCSU) 8-5
UNC Wilmington 6-5
NC State 9-0; National ranking #33
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (2,6,5,1,3,4)