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Scorching women's tennis pummels BC, Tech

Despite Epstein's absence, Cavs dominate conference adversaries to extend win streak to five

The No. 32 Virginia women’s tennis team continued to dominate this weekend, easily defeating No. 72 Boston College and No. 55 Virginia Tech to stretch its win streak to five. Virginia (8-6, 3-0 ACC) cruised to a 6-1 victory against Boston College Friday before earning bragging rights over its Hokie rivals Saturday, again winning 6-1.

The beginning of the match against Boston College (7-3, 1-2 ACC) was slightly delayed due to inclement weather, forcing Virginia officials to move the competition inside. The change did not seem to bother the Cavaliers, who jumped out to a 1-0 lead by winning two of three doubles matches.

This success in doubles came despite Virginia’s forced reshuffling of its pairs with the loss of key freshman Maci Epstein, who prior to her foot injury was ranked as high as fifth in the nation along with senior partner Erin Vierra. The team’s depth has dulled the impact of the blow, however, with standout freshman Stephanie Nauta stepping into Epstein’s place at the No. 1 doubles position.

Once the Cavaliers captured the lead, they never looked back. Aside from the No. 4 spot, where Boston College freshman Heini Salonen bested Virginia junior Li Xi 6-1, 6-4, the team won every match in straight sets.

“Overall we played really well,” Virginia freshman Julia Elbaba said. “Once we got the first sets on most courts, we slam dunked the second sets.”

A confident Virginia Tech (13-3, 2-1 ACC) squad came to Charlottesville Saturday riding a seven-match win streak. Cooperative weather allowed the match to occur outdoors at the Snyder Tennis Center. It took time for the Cavaliers to adapt to outdoor play after their indoor match the day before, and they dropped the doubles point to the Hokies.

“There was definitely a lot of adversity going from indoors to outdoors,” Elbaba said.

After doubles competition concluded with Virginia Tech tandem sophomore Carol Kahoun and freshman Raluca Mita pulling off a comeback 9-7 victory against Elbaba and senior Hana Tomljanovic, the Cavaliers went into their conference room to regain confidence.

“I was disappointed with how things turned out in doubles — Hana and I definitely could have played better,” Elbaba said. “But, we went into the conference room and had a chat as a team to regroup.”

The meeting marked a pivotal moment in the match, as Virginia came out and dominated singles play thereafter.

“It wasn’t easy, it was a battle,” coach Mark Guilbeau said. “To get off to that kind of start in singles after losing doubles is a great sign for our team.”

Though the team won all six matches, Tomljanovic’s quick revenge on Mita at the No. 3 spot stood as a highlight. The senior overpowered the Hokie with strong first serves and an efficient return game on her way to the 6-1, 6-2 rout that spotted Virginia a 2-1 lead.

Elbaba also stood out against Virginia Tech junior Isel Martinez-Marcos, winning 6-2, 7-5. Elbaba capitalized on the Hokie’s lack of power, disturbing Martinez-Marcos into several errant serves.

The only match that lasted three sets unfolded on the sixth court, where Virginia junior Caryssa Peretz outlasted Virginia Tech junior Tea Ivanovic 4-6, 6-4, 10-6 in a thrilling third set tie-break.

The Cavaliers will be back in action this weekend when they travel to North Carolina to try to upset No. 7 Duke Mar. 29 and No. 1 North Carolina Mar. 30.

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