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Virginia Women’s Tennis celebrates senior night, earns back-to-back wins to continue winning streak

The Cavaliers ended their last two home matches with victories against Wake Forest and NC State through the efforts of honored seniors Amber O’Dell and Sophia Munera

<p>The Cavaliers celebrated their seniors Friday and will close out the season on the road before the ACC Tournament.</p>

The Cavaliers celebrated their seniors Friday and will close out the season on the road before the ACC Tournament.

This past weekend, Virginia women’s tennis extended their winning streak to five matches as they defeated both Wake Forest and NC State. At the Virginia Tennis Facility at Boar’s Head Resort, the Cavaliers (16-4, 8-3 ACC) started the weekend with a 5-2 win against the Demon Deacons (15-4, 7-3 ACC) on their senior day. They continued their streak on Sunday with a 4-3 nailbiter, in which the match came down to sophomore Sara Ziodato on the last singles court.

Before their first match on Friday, the Cavaliers celebrated senior day by honoring seniors Amber O’Dell and Sofia Munera.

The match against Wake Forest started strong for Virginia on the doubles court, despite an uncharacteristic first loss from No. 17 sophomore duo Emma Navarro and Hibah Shaikh, who were just barely defeated by No. 13 sophomore Brooke Killingsworth and senior Anna Brylin. 

The Cavaliers were still able to clinch the doubles point, as the other pairs of Munera and Natasha Subhash, and freshman Elaine Chervinsky and O’Dell were able to pull through for Virginia. Munera and Subhash carried out a swift 6-3 defeat of Wake Forest’s graduate student Samantha Martinelli and senior Peyton Pesavento, while Chervinsky and O’Dell fought a tight match, ultimately earning the point in a 7-5 win.

Virginia dominated the singles courts with No. 5 Navarro and No. 40 Subhash defeating their respective opponents No. 35 senior Carolyn Campana and junior Anna Campana in straight sets. Munera quickly followed up with another point against Brylin, securing the win for the Cavaliers on her Senior Day.

At this point, Virginia was up 4-0 in the match, but the Demon Deacons were still fighting. Martinelli defeated Shaikh and Killingsworth defeated O’Dell to put Wake Forest on the board. Ultimately, the match ended with one final point for the Cavaliers. Ziodato beat senior Saby Nihalani, securing Virginia’s 5-2 victory.

With the seniors O’Dell and Munera securing the doubles and last singles point respectively, Coach Sara O’Leary could only offer praise.

“They truly led the team today with their energy, belief and toughness and it’s exciting to see the determination they are going into this last stretch of our season with,” O’Leary said.

Sunday, Virginia returned to its home court to face off against the Wolfpack (20-4, 7-3 ACC). Navarro and Shaikh were defeated once again, this time by graduate student Jaeda Daniel and senior Nell Miller. This loss marked the pair’s second of both the weekend and the entire season. Chervinsky and O’Dell tied the doubles match by winning their game, but Munera and Subhash were defeated by No. 26 sophomores Amelia Rajecki and Abigail Rencheli, giving the first point of the match to NC State. 

On the singles courts, points were even more contested. Shaikh tied the match for Virginia with a win over sophomore Sophie Abrams in straight sets, but Rajecki defeated Munera shortly after to put the Wolfpack up again. 

Navarro and Subhash struck back quickly, winning their respective games against No. 12 Daniel and No. 33 Rencheli. At this point, the Cavaliers were winning the match 3-2 and only needed one more point to secure the victory. However, No. 61 freshman Priska Nugroho pushed past Chervinsky for a tie.

Ultimately, all eyes fell on the game between Ziodato and Miller on the sixth court, the winner of which would determine the outcome of the match. The first two sets were split closely, but the final set ended in a 6-1 victory by Ziodato, handing the match to Virginia. 

“I think we've been knocking on the door with some of these top teams,” O’Leary said. “We had a healthy squad out there today, so that makes a big difference because we haven't been in that position in the past eight matches or so. I think that really helped with the energy today and we're just excited moving forward. I think we're just going to continue to build off this.”

Looking forward, the Cavaliers look to extend their winning streak on the road in their last two matches of the regular season. They will face two final ACC opponents, Clemson on Friday in Clemson, S.C. and Georgia Tech on Sunday in Atlanta, Ga, before the ACC tournament picks up at the Rome Tennis Center, in Rome, Ga.


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