Women's tennis nabs first-ever ACC title

The Virginia women celebrate their 2014 ACC Women's Tennis Championship in Cary, N.C., April 27, 2014. Virginia won 4-2 over Duke. (Photo by Sara D. Davis, theACC.com) Sara D. Davis and Sara D. Davis | Cavalier Daily

Continuing to make school history, the No. 7 Virginia women’s tennis team defeated No. 6 Duke to win the first ACC Championship title in program history Sunday in Cary, North Carolina.

After receiving a double bye, the third-seeded Cavaliers (21-5, 12-2 ACC) defeated sixth-seeded Georgia Tech (13-9, 9-5 ACC), 4-1, late Friday night to advance to the semifinals. A 4-0 shutout against second-seeded Miami (19-5, 12-2 ACC) the next day led to Virginia’s first-ever conference championship victory.

Dominating Thursday and Friday’s competition, the Blue Devils blanked No. 13 seed Wake Forest (12-13, 3-11 ACC) and fourth-seeded Clemson (20-6, 12-2 ACC) to face top-seeded archrival North Carolina (24-5, 12-2 ACC) in Saturday’s semifinal round. Duke then toppled the Tar Heels, 4-3, to advance to the ACC finals.

In a tight 4-2 victory, the Cavaliers managed to edge fifth-seeded Duke (24-4, 11-3 ACC) to cap off their conference title run.

Though senior Li Xi and sophomore Stephanie Nauta fell to Duke’s fifth-ranked duo of senior Hanna Mar and sophomore Beatrice Capra in doubles, Virginia secured the other two matches.

The No. 13 pair of sophomore Julia Elbaba and freshman Rachel Pierson went 3-0 throughout the tournament in doubles by defeating No. 30 junior Ester Goldfeld and freshman Alyssa Smith, 8-6. Sophomores Danielle Collins and Maci Epstein also maintained a perfect doubles record, battling No. 88 junior Annie Mulholland and freshman Chalena Scholl to clinch the point, 8-6.

Collins, named the tournament’s MVP, quickly extended the Virginia lead to 2-0 by besting No. 26 Goldfeld, 6-3, 6-1. With senior Caryssa Peretz and No. 69 Pierson falling at No. 6 and No. 4, respectively, Duke was able draw even with the Cavaliers.

Silencing the Blue Devil’s rally, Virginia took the last two matches in third-set victories. By defeating No. 113 Smith 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-1, Epstein gave the Cavaliers a slim 3-2 advantage.

In a thrilling third set tiebreaker, Nauta upset No. 35 Mar, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(3), to claim the ACC Championship.

With a program-best 21-5 record, Virginia will appear in the NCAA tournament for the sixth consecutive year. The first two rounds of the tournament, expected to be held at Snyder Tennis Center, will be played May 9 and 10. The Cavaliers will learn their first-round opponent Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. during the NCAA Women’s Tennis Selection Show.

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