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No. 13 Virginia completes weekend sweep, downs No. 1 Duke

Women's tennis pulls off first-ever home victory over a top-ranked opponent

The No. 13 Virginia women’s tennis team made school history Friday, upsetting No. 1 Duke 5-2 to earn the program’s first home victory against a top-ranked opponent. After handing the Blue Devils their first loss of the season, the Cavaliers traveled to No. 62 Boston College to face the Eagles Sunday. Virginia managed keep its ACC record perfect, defeating the Eagles 6-1 to improve to 7-2 this season.

Winning the ITA National Team Indoors Feb. 10, Duke (9-1, 1-1 ACC) returned to Charlottesville as strong competition. The Blue Devils dominated doubles, setting the tone early when the sixth-ranked duo of senior Hanna Mar and sophomore Beatrice Capra defeated third-ranked sophomore Julia Elbaba and freshman Rachel Pierson. A tiebreaker at No. 2 clinched the point, giving Duke an early 1-0 lead.

“It was tough,” sophomore Maci Epstein said. “But I think it fueled us to come out there and play really big tennis.”

Although the Blue Devils took the doubles point, Epstein defeated senior Rachel Kahan 6-1, 6-3 on the fifth court, setting the tone for the remainder of the Cavaliers’ singles performance.

“Every point is big,” coach Mark Guilbeau said. “Sometimes the team that can get on the scoreboard first in singles not only erases the doubles point, but almost creates some momentum in a weird kind of way.”

Building off Epstein’s win, No. 53 sophomore Danielle Collins defeated freshman Chalena Scholl 6-2, 6-4 to establish a lead Virginia would hold for the rest of the night. For Collins, the excitement from the fifth court allowed her to pull away from a close second set.

“It was really good to see [Maci] get that first point, and it gave our team a whole lot of confidence,” Collins said. “It felt pretty good to be able to walk off the court with a win.”

Refusing to be swept in singles, Duke scored its only victory of the night when No. 20 junior Ester Goldfeld defeated No. 39 Pierson 6-3, 0-6, 6-2. This sparked a Blue Devil rally and senior Marianne Jodoin battled to force a third set that freshman Marie Faure would eventually win 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

At top court, fourth-ranked Elbaba was locked in an evenly matched battle with third-ranked Capra, perhaps the toughest opponent of her career. Elbaba battled to win 7-5, 7-5 to clinch a monumental win for the Cavaliers.

“We’ve been working really hard and I was fired up the entire match,” Elbaba said. “To be able to close it out and win at the end — I can’t describe it at all.”

After losing to then-No. 2 Florida in a close match earlier this season, the win against Duke provided a huge confidence booster for the young Virginia team. Defeating a Blue Devil squad that boasts five ranked players has lended Virginia the belief that it can play with — and beat — anyone in the country.

“I think this will give us a lot of confidence and a lot of motivation to keep working hard,” Elbaba said. “It just shows that we’re right up there with the other top teams and I feel good about it.”

After falling to No. 6 North Carolina, the Eagles (7-2, 0-2 ACC) hosted the Cavaliers in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Virginia went to work early, sweeping all three courts to dominate the doubles point. The Cavaliers then started singles competition with two straight victories from Collins and Epstein to extend the Cavalier lead.

Boston College refused to go down without a fight, and sophomore Katya Vasilyev rallied to defeat Pierson 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 to earn the Eagle’s lone point of the day. Elbaba quickly silenced any chance of a comeback by clinching the win with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 defeat of junior Jessica Macnik. Faure and senior Caryssa Peretz also posted wins to add to the 6-1 victory.

“We’ve been working hard,” Collins said. “We’re definitely looking forward to the rest of the season to see what [it] has to offer us.”

Virginia will look to continue its momentum when the team continues conference play, travelling to New York to take on new ACC rival Syracuse Saturday at 11 a.m.