North Carolina State Team Page
RALEIGH, N.C. - In its final regular-season match of the season, the NC State women's tennis team was outlasted, 4-3, by 23rd-ranked Georgia Tech in an ACC battle on Sunday afternoon at the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Outdoor Tennis Stadium.
It was Senior Day for the Wolfpack, as seniors Chloe Smith and Tatiana Illova were recognized for their commitment and achievements during their four years as members of the program.
"I'm so proud of Chloe and Tatiana," said head coach Hans Olsen. "They're the heart and soul of the team, and I'm sure that's a phrase that a lot of people use, but for our team, it's the truth. Today was a great celebration of the efforts they've put into this team."
The fight for the doubles point became a dramatic affair between Georgia Tech's tandem of 57th-ranked Kendal Woodard and Megan Kurey and Illova and junior Joelle Kissell,after the Yellow Jackets picked up an 8-5 win in the No. 1 spot.
NC State (13-8, 4-7 ACC) countered on court two where the Pack's sophomore duo ofNicole Martinez and Elisha Hande picked up an 8-5 win of their own over Elizabeth Kilborn and Muriel Wacker. Martinez and Hande improved to 13-4 this spring and 6-3 in ACC matches.
With the doubles point hanging in the balance, Smith and sophomore Sophie Nelson jumped out to a 4-1 lead over the Yellow Jackets' Jasmine Minor and Natasha Prokhnevska in the No. 3 spot.
Georgia Tech (13-8, 7-4 ACC) rallied to win six of the next 7 games and take a 7-5 lead, but behind a cheering home crowd, Smith and Nelson turned the momentum of the match on its head, won the final four games and collected a 9-7 victory to clinch the doubles point for the Wolfpack.
NC State suffered its first loss of the season when winning the doubles point in a dual match. The Pack now owns a record of 14-1 when it notches the doubles point.
The Yellow Jackets picked up two quick victories at the start of singles play, after Prokhnevska downed Smith, 6-1, 6-1, in the No. 3 spot and Wacker defeated Martinez, 6-2, 6-0, at the No. 5 spot to take a 2-1 lead in the overall match.
Hande, playing in the No. 6 spot, knotted up the match, 2-2, when she picked up a convincing, 6-0, 6-3 victory over Minor. The Cheltenham, England, native won her team-leading 20th match this season.
"I've been moving really well the last couple of days," Hande said after the match. "I was really intense in every point and I just really went for it. I left everything out on the court today."
The No. 1 singles match pitted the 46th-ranked Kissell against the 86th-ranked Kilborn, and Kissell's relentless effort paid off with a 6-3, 6-3 victory to put NC State back on top, 3-2. The Hostetter, Pa., native improved to 14-5 in dual singles matches and 7-6 against ranked opponents this season.
Kissell's win was the 49th for her career in a spring match and passed Blair Sutton (1995-98) for third place on the all-time list.
"Momentum is a big thing in these team matches," Olsen said. "Sometimes it shifts every 10 minutes, and sometimes it shifts with a few points. I thought we had great momentum at that point because the team energy was great."
In another battle of ranked opponents, the 115th-ranked Illova cruised to a 6-1 first-set victory over the 98th-ranked Woodard on court two. Woodard countered however, and took the next two sets, 6-4 and 6-2, respectively, to knot the match up once again, 3-3.
At the time Illova's match finished, freshman Rachael James-Baker saw the entire crowd shift to the stands looking down on her court, where she held a 3-2 lead over Kurey in the third and final set.
James-Baker won the first set, 6-0, but Kurey fought back to take the second set, 6-1, and force a decisive frame. With the match tied 3-2, Kurey used a final push to take four of the five subsequent games to close the set, 6-4, and send Georgia Tech to a 4-3 victory.
The Wolfpack will await seeding for the ACC Tournament, which begins Thursday, April 25, at the Cary (N.C.) Tennis Park.
"We're playing well," Olsen said. "We've improved with every match, we're playing aggressive on the doubles courts and that's really working well for us. I think we're excited about this week and how we're playing right now."
Tennis Match Results
#23 Georgia Tech 4, #44 NC State 3
1. #46 Joelle Kissell (NCSU) def. #86 Elizabeth Kilborn (GT) 6-3, 6-3
2. #98 Kendal Woodard (GT) def. #115 Tatiana Illova (NCSU) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
3. Natasha Prokhnevska (GT) def. Chloe Smith (NCSU) 6-1, 6-1
4. Megan Kurey (GT) def. Rachael James-Baker (NCSU) 0-6, 6-1, 6-4
5. Muriel Wacker (GT) def. Nicole Martinez (NCSU) 6-2, 6-0
6. Elisha Hande (NCSU) def. Jasmine Minor (GT) 6-0, 6-3
1. #57 Kendal Woodard/Megan Kurey (GT) def. Joelle Kissell/Tatiana Illova (NCSU) 8-4
2. Elisha Hande/Nicole Martinez (NCSU) def. Elizabeth Kilborn/Muriel Wacker (GT) 8-5
3. Chloe Smith/Sophie Nelson (NCSU) def. Natasha Prokhnevska/Jasmine Minor (GT) 9-7
Georgia Tech 13-8, 7-4 ACC; National ranking #23
NC State 13-8, 4-7 ACC; National ranking #44
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,5,6,1,2,4)