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The Daily Tar Heel

Graham, Patel highlight Furman Invitational performances for UNC women's tennis

Alexa Graham UVa.

Sophomore Alexa Graham hits a backhand against Virginia on April 13 at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.

Junior Alexa Graham and first-year Sophia Patel left the Furman Invitational in Greenville, S.C., on top after winning their respective singles flights over the Sept. 21-23 weekend.

What happened?

Four players competed as a part of the team's opening weekend for the fall season.

No. 60 Alexa Graham came close to going out in the first round after losing the first set 6-1, but then decisively came back to win the next two sets 6-2, 6-3. She continued to dominate in the next round, winning the match 6-1, 6-1. However, her fight to the finish was close. She earned a come-from-behind win, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 to secure the title for Flight 1.

In Flight 9, Sophia Patel secured wins against opponents from South Carolina, Wake Forest, and Vanderbilt to claim a title of her own.

Senior Chloe Oullet-Pizer and freshman Cameron Morra joined Graham and Patel at this tournament, but were not as successful on Saturday of the tournament. Both players lost close, three-set matches in the second round of their flights of the tournament before recovering with a third round win.

UNC women’s tennis also entered two doubles teams in this tournament:  Patel / Oullet-Pizer and Morra/Graham, but both lost in the first round of their flights.

Who stood out?

Although it is Graham and Patel who walked away from Greenville with titles, all of the Tar Heels played well in the season-opening tournament. 

Both Morra and Patel are first-years and still have plenty of time to prove themselves at UNC. As for Oullet-Pizer, her hard-fought match in the second round resulted in a loss, but was about as close as it can get. 

When was it decided?

After losing the first set 6-1, Alexa Graham knew that she needed to change the momentum if she wanted to claim the title for her own. She was able to do just that. At the close of the first set, something changed for Graham and she came back out and decidedly won the following two sets to end the match and finish out the tournament.

Sophia Patel had a stronger start to the tournament, but almost had a slip up in the second round after losing the first round to Wake Forest’s Saby Nihalani 6-2. However, she was able to come back and win, and then easily won the following round to claim her own title.

Oullet-Pizer and Morra fell in the second round. Both women lost the first set, were able to claim the second, but were unable to secure the third to take them to their respective flight finals.

Why does it matter?

This was the first opportunity for both of the first-years to prove themselves as players for the Tar Heels. They both played well in their first action. Veteran players Oullet-Pizer and Graham also wanted to perform well in this season-opening tournament to set the tone for the rest of the season to come.

Where do they play next?

The UNC women’s tennis team will be traveling to Pacific Palisades, California for the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships Sept. 29 though Oct. 7.

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