Women's tennis' comeback bid falls short against No. 16 Alabama
The No. 10 Virginia women’s tennis team suffered its second loss of the season Saturday when the team’s comeback bid against No. 16 Alabama fell short, 4-3, in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide (5-2) drew first blood, sweeping the Cavaliers (5-2) in doubles play. After a victory on the second court, Alabama’s No. 20 duo of sophomore Maya Jansen and freshman Erin Routliffe defeated the No. 3 pairing of sophomore Julia Elbaba and freshman Rachel Pierson, 8-5, to clinch the doubles point and give Alabama a 1-0 lead.
Building on momentum from doubles, the Crimson Tide claimed the first two singles matches in straight sets to extend their lead to 3-0. Refusing to go down without a fight, fourth-ranked Elbaba sparked a potential Cavalier comeback by defeating No. 76 senior Mary Anne Daines, 6-2, 6-2, to put the Cavaliers on the board. No. 107 sophomore Stephanie Nauta continued to chip away at Alabama’s lead with a victory on the fourth court before No. 39 Pierson defeated No. 59 Jansen 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to even the score.
The success of Virginia’s comeback hinged on the outcome on the fifth court, where sophomore Maci Epstein battled junior Emily Zabor in a thrilling three-set match. After splitting the first two sets, the match boiled down to the third-set tiebreaker. Zabor would not be denied, defeating Epstein 7-2 in the tiebreaker to clinch a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 win and the match for Alabama.
Virginia will look to bounce back from the loss Friday at 3:30 p.m. when the team hosts top-ranked Duke at Boar’s Head Sports Club to open ACC play.
—compiled by Kristen Cauley