Women’s tennis falls in quarterfinals at ITA National Team Indoors

No. 10 Virginia defeats No. 14 South Carolina, falls to No. 2 Florida, defeats No. 20 TCU in consolation

spdaniellecollinscourtesyvirginiaathletics

The Virginia women’s tennis team went 2-1 over the weekend at the 2015 ITA National Women’s Tennis Indoor Team Championships hosted at the Boar’s Head Inn.

The prestigious event consisted of a 16-team field, with 15 of those teams nationally ranked in the top 20. For the No. 10 Cavaliers (6-2), who made their seventh straight appearance in the event, the tournament offered one last tough test before moving into ACC play.

“You are going to play three matches regardless, so you have a tough physical demand that you have to face,” coach Mark Guilbeau said. “It is very valuable for all of these teams, and I think the teams that play in this tournament benefit greatly from it.”

Virginia kicked off the event on Friday, Feb. 6 with an opening round 4-2 win over No. 14 South Carolina, giving the Gamecocks their first loss of the season. The Cavaliers won the doubles point, and secured wins on courts one, two and three to advance.

In the second day of the event, Virginia lost to No. 2 Florida 4-1 in the quarterfinals. The Gators swept the doubles point, although two of the three matches were decided by tiebreakers. Junior Maci Epstein notched the sole point for the Cavaliers in a 3-set win over No. 40 freshman Peggy Porter on the No. 5 court.

Virginia fell in the first round of the same championship against top-seeded Florida a year ago.

“Our team did extremely well despite not winning it and getting past the quarterfinals,” Guilbeau said. “We were really happy in all stages with all of our players. There were many more bright moments for each player than down moments.”

The three singles losses each took a third set to decide the victor. Juniors Danielle Collins, Stephanie Nauta and Skylar Morton won the first set of their matches before dropping the next two. Despite the loss, the team said they were pleased with their performance.

“Playing Florida at full strength, the level of play from both sides was very strong,” Guilbeau said. “I told the team that is the best we have played in the last year…Our only wish is we had came out a little more courageous to start the doubles.”

Virginia moved into its consolation matchup against No. 20 Texas Christian University Sunday. In the doubles portion, the Cavaliers and Horned Frogs split on courts one and two, leaving it up to court three to determine who would secure the doubles point. Collins and Epstein managed to clinch the point for the Cavaliers with a 7-5 win over freshmen Palina Dubavets and Alexis Pereira leaving Virginia with a 1-0 lead moving into singles.

“We really tried to advance our double philosophy and I was happy with how we executed that philosophy,” Guilbeau said.

On court two, Collins made the score 2-0 with a 6-3, 6-1 over senior Simona Parajova, and Epstein added another win on court five with a 7-5, 6-2 win against Pereira. Then, even though freshman Cassie Mercer lost on court six, Nauta clinched the match with a 6-4, 6-4 win over sophomore Sofiko Kadzhaya on court three.

“You win the doubles points, and you have three straight single set victories,” Guilbeau said. “It was just efficient. Everyone contributed and everyone played really well.”

Moving forward, Virginia learned the importance of winning the doubles point this weekend, as the Cavaliers won the doubles point in both of its wins, but lost it in its loss to Florida.

“Our greatest upside lies in continuing to improve in our doubles,” Guilbeau said. “I’m impressed and proud that our team has been able to win without it, but it is definitely essential.”

The Cavaliers do not play again until they face Syracuse and Boston College on Feb. 21 and 22, respectively. Both matches will be held at the Boar’s Head Inn. The Syracuse match begins at 12 p.m., while the Boston College match starts at 11 a.m.

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