This past week, members of the North Carolina women’s tennis team and men’s tennis team traveled to the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, and competed in the NCAA Singles and Doubles championships.
Five members of the women’s team competed; three different Tar Heels made it to the round of 16 of the singles tournament, including first-year Cameron Morra, who made it to the semifinals. Two UNC duos competed in the doubles tournament: the No. 2 duo of Alexa Graham and Jessie Aney, who made it to the round of 16, and the No. 12 duo of Makenna Jones and Morra, who made it to the quarterfinals.
No. 7 Alexa Graham
UNC junior Alexa Graham faced TCU’s Ellie Douglas in the first round of the NCAA Singles Championship. Graham started the match and won the first set, 6-2, before Douglas was able to bounce back and win the next set, 7-5. In a closely contested third set, Graham was able to prevail 7-5 to advance to the round of 32.
On day two, Graham faced Pepperdine’s Ashley Lahey, the runner up in the 2018 NCAA Singles Championship. Still, Graham was prepared.
In the first set, Graham led 4-2 early, but Lahey fought back and pushed the set to a tiebreaker. But Graham secured a timely ace, and won the first set, 7-6 (4). Then, Graham controlled the second set from the get-go and won 6-4, sending her to the round of 16.
Graham’s postseason came to an end in the third round, however. She lost to No. 43 Asuka Kawai of Illinois, 7-5, 6-3.
No. 46 Cameron Morra
Morra, who was named the 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year, made her debut at the NCAA Women’s Singles Championship on Monday, facing off against No. 34 Silvia Ambrosio from Purdue.
To begin the match, Ambrosio commanded the first set and won 6-0. In the second set, however, Morra found her groove. She powered back and defeated Ambrosio, 6-2, forcing a third set. With the match on the line, Morra shut out Ambrosio and won the third set, 6-0, completing an impressive comeback to advance.
In the second round, Morra continued to find success, and beat No. 19 Marta Gonzalez in two straight sets, 7-6, 6-2 to win her 12th consecutive singles match. In the quarterfinals, Morra kept her postseason alive after beating No. 22 Felicity Maltby 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. With the win, Morra became the only Tar Heel to advance to the semifinals.
In Friday's semifinal, Morra’s postseason run came to an end at the hands of No. 1 Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami, 6-3, 6-1.
No. 20 Sara Daavettila
Daavettila completed an upset in the first day of competition, defeating No. 3 Kate Fahey. This matchup was actually the second time these two met this season on the court. On February 24, UNC faced Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Daavettila fell to Fahey in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.
However, at the 2019 NCAA Women’s Singles Championship, history did not repeat itself.
Daavettila started off fast, and won the first set, 6-3. Although Daavettila won the first set, she dropped the second set, 6-4, to Fahey. With the match on the line tied, Daavettila battled in the third set, and won, 6-4.
In the second round, Daavettila took on Kentucky’s Justina Mikulskyte. Though she lost the first set, 6-4, Daavettila answered with consecutive set victories, 6-4, to advance. Daavettila didn't stop there; in the round of 16, she defeated Solymar Colling in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, and advanced to the quarterfinals.
With a spot in the semifinals on the line, Daavettila’s postseason run ended on Thursday after losing to No. 21 Kelly Chan, 6-3, 6-4.
No. 5 Makenna Jones
In the first round, Jones faced No. 24 Michaela Gordon from Stanford. This was the second time Jones and Gordon faced each other this season, with the first time coming in the semifinals of the team championship. In the first match up, Gordon defeated Jones in three sets; on Monday, Gordon got the best of Jones again, and won the match in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.
No. 2 Aney and Graham
In the NCAA Doubles Championship, the second-ranked duo of Aney and Graham faced Stanford’s Emily Arbuthnott and Michaella Gordon in the first round. Aney and Graham took control from the start, and won two straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, to advance to the second round.
In the round of 16, Aney and Graham faced Georgia’s Lourdes Carle and Katarina Jokic. In the first set, Carle and Jokic won handily and carried that momentum into the second set, propelling them to a 6-1, 6-3, victory and ending Aney and Graham's stellar season.
No. 12 Jones and Morra
On Tuesday, Jones and Morra made their debut as a duo at the NCAA Doubles Championship. In the first round, they faced LSU’s Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson, who won the 2018 NCAA Women’s Doubles Championship. From the get-go, Jones and Morra took the lead. In the first set, Jones and Morra took an early 5-0 lead to cruise to a 6-2 win.
Golovin and Richardson were able to secure the second set win, 7-5, but the Tar Heels were able to win the tiebreaker to advance.
In an even more closely contested second round, Jones and Morra overcame the No. 26 duo of Ksenia Kuznetsova and Valeriya Zeleva from UCF, 7-5, 7-6 (6).
In the quarterfinals of the doubles tournament, however, Jones and Morra's run came to an end. Though they won the second set, the Tar Heel duo fell at the hands of UCLA's No. 5 Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield, who won the tiebreaker to advance to the semifinals.
Though both the men's and women's tennis teams fell in the semifinals of their respective NCAA Team Championships, their seasons have not been without highlights, as evidenced by the impressive runs of Morra, Jones and others.
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