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No. 11 Virginia women’s tennis goes 2-1 against top-10 teams at ITA National Team Indoor Championship

The Cavaliers were defeated by No. 5 Michigan, but notched impressive victories against No. 6 Pepperdine and No. 1 North Carolina

<p>Despite losing to Michigan, Virginia’s victories against Pepperdine and North Carolina served as a reassurance that they belong near the top of the tennis rankings.</p>

Despite losing to Michigan, Virginia’s victories against Pepperdine and North Carolina served as a reassurance that they belong near the top of the tennis rankings.

No. 11 Virginia women’s tennis (8-2, 0-0 ACC) competed at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship this weekend, notching an impressive 5-2 upset victory against No. 6 Pepperdine (2-2, 0-0 WCC) before they were defeated by 4-seed No. 5 Michigan (7-1, 0-0 Big Ten) in the quarterfinals Saturday. After falling to Michigan, however, they went on to defeat No. 1 North Carolina in the consolation match to end the weekend on a high note.

Match 1 - Friday vs. No. 6 Pepperdine

Virginia opened the tournament with an upset against Pepperdine. The Cavaliers fell to the Waves on the first doubles court when juniors Elaine Chervinsky and Melodie Collard were defeated 6-1 by No. 4 nationally-ranked duo junior Savannah Broadus and senior Janice Tjen. However, Virginia quickly bounced back when senior Hibah Shaikh and graduate student Natasha Subhash handily knocked off graduate student Anna Campana and senior Nikki Redelijk 6-1 to even the score.

All tied up at 1-1, the doubles point came down to court three. Facing match point early on, the Waves held on through the ninth and tenth games, eventually tying the match at five games each. However, sophomore Annabelle Xu and senior Sara Ziodato managed to hang on and defeated Pepperdine 7-5 and secure the doubles point for Virginia.

The Cavaliers carried their momentum through to the first match of the singles portion when No. 93 Collard won against Wave freshman Jasmine Conway 6-2, then 6-4 to secure a 2-0 Virginia lead. This lead was cut short when No. 15 Pepperdine graduate student Lisa Zaar and Tjen won against Xu and Subhash, respectively, in straight sets to even the score 2-2. However, No. 72 Ziodato and Chervinsky took their matches to tiebreakers, both emerging victorious to give Virginia their third and fourth points. 

No. 41 Shaikh closed out her match with a three-set comeback victory against No. 6 Broadus, earning the highest-ranked win of her career and Broadus’ first loss in a dual match since the 2022 season. With a final score of 3-6, 6-2 and 6-1, the win secured the upset for the Cavaliers, who advanced to play No. 5 Michigan in the quarterfinals while Pepperdine headed to the consolation round.

Match 2 - Saturday vs. No. 5 Michigan

Up next for Virginia was a match against No. 5 Michigan in the quarterfinals. The Cavaliers suffered their first loss of the season against the Wolverines Feb. 3 and were looking to bounce back and earn a revenge victory. However, this task proved insurmountable as Virginia yet again fell to Michigan in a 4-1 defeat.

Michigan struck quickly, taking the doubles point with two victories on courts one and three. At 3-2, Wolverine seniors Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller did not drop another game to earn a 6-2 victory over Collard and Chervinsky. Freshmen Piper Charney and Reese Miller closed out the doubles point, jumping out to a 5-1 lead early on and converting match point on their fifth chance for a 6-3 victory. 

The singles matches were initially much more competitive than the doubles were, with three heading to first-set tiebreakers. Of those tiebreakers, Michigan won on courts five and six, while Virginia won on court two. Wolverine senior No. 124 Gala Mesochoritou was the first to claim a singles victory, handily defeating Subhash 6-4, 6-1. No. 57 sophomore Lily Jones added to Michigan’s lead after claiming the first-round tie break against Chervinsky.

The Cavaliers showed signs of life when Shaikh defeated No. 9 Miller 6-3, then 6-4 to earn a point. The win was Shaikh’s second against a top-10 opponent in the tournament. However, this success was short-lived as Brown rallied from a 1-6 first-set loss against Ziodato to earn a 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory. This victory put the nail in the coffin for Virginia in a disappointing repeat of the previous week's loss. Michigan advanced to the semifinals, while Virginia headed to the consolation round Sunday against No. 1 North Carolina (7-2, 0-0 ACC), another tough opponent.

Match 3 - Sunday vs. No. 1 North Carolina

After losing out to Michigan for the second time in a row, Virginia was hoping to regain some momentum for a tough consolation round opponent, and they succeeded, defeating North Carolina 4-0. The victory was the Cavaliers’ first in the regular season against the Tar Heels since 2013.

Collard and Chervinsky defeated No. 11 senior Fiona Crawley and junior Carson Tanguilig to open doubles play. Subhash and Shaikh then clinched the doubles point, knocking off No. 7 graduate student Abbey Forbes and senior Reilly Tran 6-3. This was the first time all season that North Carolina had lost the doubles point, and Subhash became the 7th player in Virginia program history with 100 doubles victories.

The Tar Heels did not fare any better against the Cavaliers in singles play. Collard struck first, defeating No. 45 freshman Thea Rabman in straight sets. Ziodato followed suit, beating No. 62 Forbes 6-3, 6-4. Chervinsky clinched the victory for Virginia when she defeated Tran 6-4, 6-2. The Cavaliers dominated the Tar Heels throughout the match, earning a huge victory after a disappointing tournament performance against Michigan.

“We learned a lot from that loss and did a much better job starting today’s match with the energy, toughness and discipline I know we can bring … I’m really proud of our squad and looking forward to continuing to work and build,” Coach Sara O’Leary said.

Despite losing to Michigan, Virginia’s victories against Pepperdine and North Carolina served as a reassurance that they belong near the top of the tennis rankings. The Cavaliers are in for an exciting season if they can build off of this weekend and will be hoping to improve on last season’s NCAA Tournament performance in which they made it to the Round of 16.

The Cavaliers will open ACC play on the road Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. when they travel to Notre Dame to take on the Fighting Irish.


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