No. 11 Virginia women’s tennis has had an impressive start to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Team Championship, defeating both LIU and Princeton over the weekend at the Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville. This is the eighth time in program history and third straight time for Coach Sara O’Leary that the Cavaliers (20-6, 10-3 ACC) have advanced to the Round of 16. The Sharks (12-11, 4-0 NEC) and the Tigers (17-7, 7-0 Ivy League) were each overwhelmed by Virginia’s depth of talent at its disposal.
Match 1 – Virginia 4 - LIU 0
The Cavaliers opened play Friday at the Charlottesville Regional with a 4-0 victory against LIU. Virginia had a strong start against the Sharks in doubles, with graduate student Julia Adams and sophomore Melodie Collard winning 6-1 on the top court. Senior Natasha Subhash and freshman Annabelle Xu clinched the doubles point by winning 6-2 on court two.
The Cavaliers continued to play strong in the singles matches, with Collard putting Virginia ahead 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-0 win on court five against LIU’s graduate student Elinor Storkaas. She finished her match before court one had even completed their first set.
Xu followed, winning her match 6-1, 6-2 against junior Saki Oyama on court three. Junior Hibah Shaikh finished just moments after Xu with a 6-0, 6-0 win on court four, clinching the victory for the Cavaliers. It was the third shutout of the season for the Cavaliers and the first since Feb. 5.
Match 2 – Virginia 4 - Princeton 0
After a beautiful win Friday, the Cavaliers were ready to face the Tigers Saturday. They had faced each other the year before in the Round of 32, and Virginia had picked up a 4-0 victory against them — making this victory even more exciting.
Virginia defeated Princeton 4-0 in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Team Championship, repeating their victory from last year. For the 15th time in the last 19 matches, the Cavaliers jumped out to the 1-0 lead by taking the doubles point with a pair of 6-2 wins on the second and third doubles courts.
Collard put Virginia ahead 2-0 with a hard-fought win against freshman Eva Albez on court six. She battled through a 7-3 tiebreaker in her first set, then downed her opponent 6-0 in the second.
Junior Sara Ziodato closed out a straight-set victory on court five, winning 6-3, 6-4 against senior Grace Joyce. This left the last four courts to play for the final point, with each match going to the third set — including the top court where Adams took the first set against No. 10 senior Daria Frayman.
Xu clinched the match for the Cavaliers and suspended play in the final three singles courts, rebounding from a 0-6 loss in her first set to win her second two sets 6-3, 6-4 against junior Zoe Howard on court three.
Virginia closed out their home campaign with a 13-1 record this year in Charlottesville. Even though they are the No. 12 seed in the championship, their strong play has moved them up to No. 11 in the most recent ITA rankings.
O’Leary was impressed with their performance over the weekend, especially against Princeton.
“They made us earn it,” O’Leary said. “I think playing in the ACC conference and playing so many competitive matches throughout the season really prepared us for this match.”
The Cavaliers hope to use this weekend’s performance as momentum in order to compete in the Round of 16, where they will take on No. 5 Michigan. The Wolverines (24-3, 11-0 Big Ten) have been dominant throughout the year in a tough Big Ten, so the Cavaliers will need production from all six starters in order to defeat the host team.
The next match for the Cavaliers will be held next Saturday in the Ann Arbor Super Regional. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals, which are held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.