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No. 4 women’s tennis makes fourth-ever ACC Championship match, falls to No. 5 North Carolina

The ACC Regular Season Co-Champions defeated No. 28 Notre Dame and No. 23 Florida State to qualify for the finals

<p>The No. 4 women's tennis team reached the ACC Championship final match for the fourth time since 1990, falling to No. 5 North Carolina in the final match.</p>

The No. 4 women's tennis team reached the ACC Championship final match for the fourth time since 1990, falling to No. 5 North Carolina in the final match.

For the fourth time in its history, No. 4 Virginia women’s tennis made it to the ACC Championship match, defeating No. 28 Notre Dame and No. 23 Florida State en route to its finals appearance. Unfortunately, the two-seed Cavaliers (22-4, 12-1 ACC) could not overcome the one-seeded No. 5 North Carolina team that defeated them earlier this month. The Cavaliers, who shared the regular-season title with the Tar Heels (22-3, 12-1 ACC) with a 12-1 conference record, bested both the seven-seed Fighting Irish (17-9, 7-6 ACC) and the three-seed Seminoles (16-8, 9-4 ACC) 4-0 but were outcompeted by North Carolina, falling 1-4.

Friday — Virginia 4, Notre Dame 0

The Cavaliers opened play against Notre Dame in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament Friday. Due to wet conditions, the match started two hours late, a delay that only seemed to help Virginia as it dominated the Fighting Irish 4-0.

To open competition, No. 8 junior duo Melodie Collard and Elaine Chervinsky swiftly defeated No. 42 senior Julia Andreach and graduate student Page Freeman on court one, 6-2. Senior Sara Ziodato and sophomore Meggie Navarro clinched the doubles point against senior Yashna Yellayi and junior Nibi Ghosh, defeating the Notre Dame duo 6-2 on court three.

Notre Dame had no answer to Virginia in singles play, falling swiftly in three matches. On court five, No. 99 Chervinsky defeated Yellayi in straight sets, 6-2 and 6-1. Graduate student Natasha Subhash soon followed suit, besting sophomore Bojana Pozder 6-0, 6-2. 

Clinching the match was No. 86 Ziodato, who defeated Ghosh in a three-set victory, 3-6, 6-0 and 6-1. All three other matches went unfinished due to Virginia having already won. With the win, Virginia advanced to the semifinals, which they played Saturday against Florida State in a rematch of their final regular season match, which Virginia won 4-2.

Saturday — Virginia 4, Florida State 0

Virginia carried their momentum from Notre Dame into their Saturday contest against Florida State. The Cavaliers, once again, won the doubles point to get the ball rolling and didn’t slow down the rest of the match.

Ziodato and Navarro finished first on court three against Seminole freshman Laura Putz and sophomore Cade Cricchio, winning 6-3. Florida State battled back on court one, however, where No. 27 graduate student Vic Allen and sophomore Millie Bissett bested Collard and Chervinsky in a competitive 7-5 battle. 

Virginia came back in the third match to clinch the point. Despite being down 3-0 in the beginning, Virginia’s No. 38 duo of senior Hibah Shaikh and Subhash stayed committed and rallied against seniors Anna Arkadianou and Ellie Schoppe in a gritty match that went to a tiebreaker, which the Cavaliers won 7-2.

“They had two match points at 6-5 and didn’t win those points, so for them to come out like they did in that tiebreaker and just stayed so focused on the task at hand, I’m just really proud of them,” Coach Sara O’Leary said.

The singles competition was surgical for Virginia, which took four of six first sets. Collard pulled the score to 2-0, beating Putz quickly 6-1, 6-1. Shaikh put the Cavaliers up by three on court two with a 6-3, 6-0 win over No. 33 Schoppe. Subhash then closed out the day for Virginia when she beat Arkadianou 6-2, 6-2 in an overwhelming Cavalier win.

“In singles, I felt like we had girls that started really strong right from the beginning and they didn’t let their foot off the gas.” O’Leary said. “That’s what it took today. I’m just really proud of them.”

With victory secured over the Seminoles, Virginia headed to its fourth trip to the finals since 1990. The Cavaliers were the runner-up in 2022 and were back-to-back champions in 2014 and 2015, and were looking to capitalize on their latest trip, although they were ultimately unable to.

Sunday — Virginia 1, North Carolina 4

Virginia’s roll came to a halt Sunday against North Carolina in a 1-4 loss that was played indoors due to inclement weather. It was a rainy day for the Cavaliers, who suffered their second loss to the Tar Heels this season. Before the match, Virginia was 1-1 against the previously No. 1 ranked Tar Heels, who they defeated in February at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, but unfortunately they were unable to conjure up that success a second time.

In doubles competition, Virginia had no answer to North Carolina on any of the three courts. First, Subhash and Shaikh fell to No. 43 Tar Heel senior duo of Elizabeth Scotty and Anika Yarlagadda on court two, 6-2. Finishing at almost the same time, Collard and Chervinsky were also defeated 6-2 by No. 11 senior Fiona Crawley and junior Carson Tanguilig, securing the doubles point for the Tar Heels.

Singles competition was more competitive, but the Cavaliers still couldn’t lock down anything substantial against North Carolina’s formidable team. Shaikh rallied against No. 36 Scotty in the first set, taking it 6-0, but lost the next two, 1-6, 2-6. On court four, No. 59 senior Reilly Tran defeated Ziodato in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2. 

Subhash put the Cavaliers on the board with a three-set win over No. 50 Tanguilig. After dropping her second set, she bounced back in the third, winning the match 6-2, 2-6 and 6-3 to give Virginia some life. No. 61 sophomore Annabelle Xu forced a third set against No. 7 Crawley immediately after, keeping Virginia alive.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, despite these signs of life, No. 75 freshman Tatum Evans clinched the Tar Heel victory on court six against Collard soon after. Although Collard took the first set, Evans locked it down in sets two and three to win 2-6, 6-2 and 6-2.

“I thought they [North Carolina] played really well … they came out really strong in doubles,” O’Leary said. “I’m just really proud of our group. They worked so hard all weekend, and they gave us a chance to win this match today. And gave us a chance to win all those singles matches … We’re going to learn from this and move forward.”

The Cavaliers will close out their season at the NCAA Championship, which begins May 3, while brackets will be released April 29. Virginia’s only losses this season have come at the hands of North Carolina and Michigan, with all signs pointing to a very successful tournament. However, Virginia lost to Michigan last year 2-4 in the Round of 16, so if they have to face them again, the Cavaliers may have to dig deep to overcome the No. 2 Wolverines.

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