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Women's tennis sweeps weekend matches

Cavaliers extend win streak to five with wins agasint Wake Forest, NC State, ETSU

The No. 18 Virginia women’s team continued its dominant run this weekend, winning all three of its matches in Charlottesville to improve to 10-1 in its past 11 matches. The Cavaliers dominated Wake Forest Saturday for a 7-0 sweep, took down another ACC foe in No. 44 NC State 5-2 Sunday and completed their perfect weekend later that day with a 4-1 win against East Tennessee State.

Virginia (13-7, 6-1 ACC) got off to a quick start against Wake Forest Saturday, grabbing all three victories in doubles competition. The Cavaliers have settled into their pairings after a midseason shakeup caused by an injury to standout freshman Maci Epstein. All three duos cruised to comfortable wins to ensure Virginia earned the doubles point.

“After Maci got hurt, our second and third teams have stepped up enormously,” senior Erin Vierra said. “That’s been a huge part of our success.”

With Virginia’s triumph, Wake Forest (2-15, 1-6 ACC) has now lost 15 straight matches. The Demon Deacons had no answer for Virginia’s depth and experience, which has come from competing against a myriad of nationally ranked opponents.

The bottom of Virginia’s lineup continued its strong play. The No. 6 and No. 5 spots concluded first to give Virginia a quick 3-0 lead. Cavalier senior Maria Fuccillo did not drop a game to Wake Forest senior Catherine Roach, winning 6-0, 6-0. Vierra followed suit at No. 5, earning a 6-2, 6-0 victory. The rest of the lineup continued to dominate, as not a single Cavalier dropped a set in the match.

“Our players did really well overall,” associate coach Troy Porco said. “To start the weekend against a tough Wake Forest team and perform so well speaks a lot about our team.”

The following day, a confident NC State (11-6, 2-5 ACC) team came to Charlottesville looking to climb the national rankings. The Wolfpack snapped their four match losing streak with a stellar 6-1 victory at No. 62 Virginia Tech in its previous match. Virginia, however, proved too much for the Wolfpack to handle as the Cavaliers easily secured the 5-2 victory.

NC State entered a perfect 11-0 when capturing the doubles point, but Virginia made that statistic a moot point. NC State’s top pair of junior Joelle Kissell and senior Tatiana Illova edged Virginia freshman Stephanie Nauta and Vierra, 8-6. The Cavaliers regrouped quickly, however, winning the next two matches as freshman Julia Elbaba and senior Hana Tomljanovic clinched the point at the No. 2 position.

Virginia continued to assert its dominance in singles play. Vierra immediately added a second point by blanking Wolfpack sophomore Nicole Martinez at the No. 5 spot. Nauta made amends for the doubles loss by defeating Illova 6-2, 6-2. Virginia’s only blemishes in singles came at No. 3, where Tomljanovic had to forfeit her match due to a hamstring injury, and at No. 4 where junior Li Xi was bested in three sets by senior Chloe Smith.

The Cavaliers had two hours of rest before beginning their match against East Tennessee State (11-5, 6-0 Atlantic Sun). Both teams agreed to play an abbreviated match featuring just one doubles and four singles matches, and the Cavaliers dropped just one point en route to a 4-1 victory.

“East Tennessee State is a very good team,” Porco said. “They’re a team that has a chance to win their conference and get an NCAA bid, so I was very happy with how we played against them.”

The Cavaliers took the point in doubles with Fuccillo and Elbaba teaming up to beat the Buccaneers’ duo of junior Salma Dahbi and junior Sofia Espana 6-1, 6-2. The Fuccillo-Elbaba pairing is a new one for Virginia, but the duo found success against the Buccaneers.

“Moving everything around is a big mental adjustment for us,” Vierra said. “But, I think that, now, overall we have solid teams together.”

Virginia’s strong play continued in singles. Junior Caryssa Peretz shut out Buccaneer freshman Anna Gerbasi 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 5 position and Vierra edged senior Antonia Kolovou at No. 3 in her fifth match of the weekend and her third of the day.

Virginia will look to extend its win streak next weekend when it faces Georgia Tech in Atlanta Saturday and Clemson in South Carolina the following day.

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