Coming into NCAAs, UNC had dropped three straight doubles points in a row, digging an early hole it had to build its way out of. But since then, instead of falling behind early, the team has captured the early advantage in rounds one and two. Against Stanford, things were looking up early too.
The duo of Sara Daavettila and Alle Sanford provided a steady 6-3 win to start of the match. North Carolina would only need to win one more to take the 1-0 lead. But things started to slip. Then, Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham, the No. 2 doubles team in the country, fell 6-4.
It all came down to Makenna Jones and Marika Akkerman, who were in a hard-fought match on Court Three. A Jones’ forehand right down the center of the court landed out of reach and secured a 7-5 win, to make sure the Tar Heels won all three doubles points in the NCAA tournament. However, the rest of the match would not be so kind to the team.
In singles play, the momentum shifted dramatically in favor of the Cardinals when it took four of the first six sets away from North Carolina. On Court Two, Sanford fell 4-6, 1-6, to tie the match at 1-1. Not too long after, Chloe Oullet-Pizer, Graham and Aney all lost their matches to close out the match. None of the three came closer than two games away from their opponent to drop the sets.
Who stood out?
The clear highlight of the match for the Tar Heels was the play of Jones and Akkerman to save the doubles point. If not for their clinching 7-5 win, the team would not have even gotten on the board.
Notably, Jones also finished the season without losing a singles match playing on Court One, losing just two matches all season.
Why does it matter?
Although the ending was sour for the team, the season was highlighted by an ACC Championship title for the third year in a row, an ITA Indoor Championship and just two conference losses.
After the loss, the team closed out the season with a 28-4 record, losing only to Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Duke and Stanford. The Tar Heels held the No. 1 spot in the country for 11 of 12 rankings releases before exiting the NCAA tournament.
When do they play next?
Although the team’s season is over, starting on May 23, Jones, Daavettila and Sanford will compete in the NCAA Singles Championship, while Aney and Graham will enter doubles play as the No. 2 seed. Daavettila and Sanford are also first alternates for the doubles tournament if any teams drop out before play begins.
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