After turbulent singles play and multiple weather scares moved play indoors, the No. 1 UNC women’s tennis team (28-3, 12-1 ACC) failed to beat the No. 4 seed Texas Longhorns (25-4, 8-1 Big 12), losing 4-2 in the NCAA semifinals.
After beating Pepperdine on Friday and entering the Texas matchup ranked No. 1, UNC was prepared for an easy win. After courts one and two saw losses in doubles play, UNC’s future in the tournament ultimately fell into question.
During the doubles matchup, junior Elizabeth Scotty played close to the net with sophomore duo partner Fiona Crawley, aiming to find the same magic they had during ITA fall play, but ultimately fell short. On the same front, senior Cameron Morra and sophomore Reilly Tran had similarly strong plays early on, but began to fall short as the night went on, which allowed Texas to clinch the key doubles point as their match remained unfinished.
After dropping the doubles point early on with two losses on the courts, the Tar Heels started singles play with a 6-0, 6-4 first-set win from sophomore Fiona Crawley.
Junior Anika Yarlagadda won the tiebreaker in set one with a deep forehand, keeping her opponent near the baseline and using deep groundstrokes to clinch the match point. Carson Tanguilig also won a first-set tiebreaker, playing close to the baseline after play was moved inside for the second time during the night after multiple weather delays.
After multiple courts went into tiebreakers during singles play, the Longhorns ultimately took home the win 4-2.
Who stood out?
Crawley had one of the most impressive showings of the night, as her 6-0, 6-4 win in her singles matchup brought the Tar Heels to an early 1-1 tie. She bounced back from a rare singles loss in Friday’s match with Saturday’s win over Charlotte Chavatipon, giving Crawley her 43rd singles win of the season, leading all DI players.
When was it decided?
After multiple games went into a third set, UNC ultimately fell short on three key singles courts after Tran, Morra and Tanguilig all dropped their singles matches. Crawley was able to tie up the score early on, but these later match losses extended the Longhorn lead.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels’ fall season saw impressive wins in the doubles bracket, with Crawley and Scotty taking home an ITA Fall Championships win, and ultimately set the Tar Heels up for another impressive season. Doubles play so far in the spring season has been consistent, but might have cost the Tar Heels their tournament run on Saturday.
When do they play next?
Saturday’s loss concludes UNC’s season competing as a team. However, several team members are set to compete at the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, which will take place in Champaign, Ill., beginning on Monday. The No. 2 duo of Scotty and Crawley will compete in doubles, while No. 5 Morra, No. 30 Scotty, No. 35 Tran, No. 51 Tanguilig, and No. 55 Crawley will all compete in singles.