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#5 Waves Clash with Top-Ranked North Carolina in NCAA Semifinals
Friday, 05/21/2021
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Pepperdine Team Page

LAKE NONA, Florida – With a buffer day between the instant classic against UCLA and the tournament semifinals, the fifth-ranked Pepperdine women's tennis team will prepare to take on top-ranked and undefeated North Carolina in the Final Four set to take place on Friday.
SEMIFINALS: #5 Pepperdine (24-3) vs #1 UNC (30-0) | Friday, May 21 | 2:30 p.m. PT/5:30 p.m. ET | USTA National Campus | Tennis Channel | Live Scoring
COVERAGE: The Waves will be live on the Tennis Channel once again, with live scoring available at the link above. Follow along on Twitter as well at @WavesTennis.
ATTENDANCE: The NCAA has updated their policies regarding the capacity of its championship events. As a result, capacity for the ongoing Division I Tennis Championships, being held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., will increase to 100% for all remaining sessions.
Additional tickets will go on sale for all remaining sessions of the team event, which concludes on May 22,  as well as for the individual event, which begins on Sunday, May 23 and runs through May 28. 
Tickets can be purchased at
The top-ranked Tarheels are no strangers to the semifinals, as it is their fourth time overall in the last four. North Carolina has gone unscathed throughout the 2021 season, winning the ITA Indoors against fellow semifinalist Texas and beating the Waves in the process. Playing in the ACC was no small task either, as four of the eight teams prior to Wednesday's matches were from the conference. In fact, the Tarheels had to go through an all-too familiar foe in #18 Duke in the quarters to advance, but did so with ease as UNC grabbed the 4-1 win over their rivals.
Ranked for North Carolina is Sara Daavettila at #2, Cameron Morra at #27, Makenna Jones at #32, Alexa Graham at #41 and Anika Yarlagadda at #110. The Tarheels also sport six different combinations of ranked doubles tandems, as a plethora of ACC pairs are ranked in the top 100.
During the last meeting between the two teams, the Waves fell 4-1 to UNC. Pepperdine was without Ashley Lahey, however, and Taisiya Pachkaleva earned the lone Waves' point on the afternoon with a 6-4, 6-0 win over then-#79 Elizabeth Scotty. Jessica Failla was in route to defeating then-#3 Alexa Graham 7-5, 5-2 before the clinch point was earned.
Since then, the Waves have revamped their styles of play and lineups, only having lost twice since that match in February. Pachkaleva has not lost a match since that month, going for 23-straight wins and a 25-1 overall singles record on the season.
"I think our team is able to compete with anyone," head coach Per Nilsson said in the post-match press conference Wednesday night. "We've shown that in the past and we've shown it this year."
"A lot of times we get in our own way, especially in the beginning of the year. If we just take care of business and focus on the things we can control, we're a good team."
"Our team is not the same team that we started [the season] with, it's not the team that we had in the middle," senior Ashley Lahey said in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
"I think we would destroy the earlier team… We've all gotten so much better and we're just ready to give it all we've got."
The winner of the semifinal match will face either NC State or Texas in the NCAA championship Saturday, May 22 at 2:30 p.m. PT/5:30 p.m. ET.