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UNC Women's Tennis Falls Short in NCAA Championship Bid

The Tar Heels lost 4-3 to Pepperdine in the national semifinals.

ORLANDO - The UNC women’s team fell just short in their bid for the program’s first ever NCAA Tennis Team Championship.

After a flawless record in their first 30 matches of the season, the Tar Heels fell to Pepperdine 4-3 on Friday night in the national semifinals.

What ultimately doomed Carolina was an inability to win the all-important doubles point, which they had accomplished in 23 straight matches.

For those unfamiliar with how a collegiate tennis match unfolds, here’s an explanation of how the game play works:

There are seven total points available in a match, first team to four points is the winner. The match has one “doubles point” and six “singles points”. A match starts with three doubles matches taking place simultaneously, each playing a single set. The team that wins two of these doubles matches wins the doubles point. Following the three doubles matches, six best-two-sets-out-of-three singles matches take place simultaneously. The match is over when one team reaches four total points, even if some of the singles matches haven’t ended.

Carolina and Pepperdine split the first two doubles matches, with the Tar Heels winning no. 1 doubles 6-4 and the Waves winning no. 3 doubles 6-4. Pepperdine’s win at no. 3 doubles was an upset with their unranked duo of Iamachkine and Failla knocking off the 34th-ranked Tar Heel duo of Sanford and Tran. But the real shocker came when Pepperdine took the doubles point by winning no. 2 doubles. Another unranked duo (Fakuda / Pachkaleva) beat 4th-ranked Jones and Scotty 7-5. If either one of those two Tar Heel doubles teams was able to pull out the victory, UNC would be moving on to the national championship Saturday against Texas.

After losing the doubles point, Carolina would need to win four of the six singles matches to advance. This scenario seemed likely, given that the Heels had the higher-ranked player at five of the six singles positions.

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UNC took three of the first four singles matches to edge ahead 3-2. Unfortunately, though, Pepperdine was once again able to spring a few more upsets, winning each of the final two singles matches to complete the 4-3 upset.

While the Tar Heels are sad about the outcome, they will need to quickly turn their attention to the NCAA Singles & Doubles Championships which will begin on Sunday. Hopefully the ladies will be able to move on quickly from this heartbreak and rally for strong showings in the individual event.

Complete results

Singles

  1. #2 Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. #77 Ashley Lahey (PEPP) 6-4, 6-4
  2. #41 Alexa Graham (UNC) def. #21 Jessica Failla (PEPP) 6-2, 6-3
  3. #89 Taisiya Pachkaleva (PEPP) def. #27 Cameron Morra (UNC) 7-6 (3), 6-3
  4. #118 Shiori Fakuda (PEPP) def. #97 Elizabeth Scotty (UNC) 6-2, 6-2
  5. Lisa Zaar (PEPP) def. #32 Makenna Jones (UNC) 6-4, 6-4
  6. #36 Fiona Crawley (UNC) def. Nikki Redelijk (PEPP) 6-3, 6-1

Order of Finish: 2, 4, 6, 1, 5, 3

Doubles

  1. Sara Daavettila / Cameron Morra (UNC) def. Ashley Lahey/Lisa Zaar (PEPP) 6-4
  2. Shiori Fakuda/Taisiya Pachkaleva (PEPP) def. #4 Makenna Jones / Elizabeth Scotty (UNC) 7-5
  3. Anastasia Iamachkine/Jessica Failla (PEPP) def. #34 Alle Sanford / Reilly Tran (UNC) 6-4

Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2

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