The No. 2 UNC women's tennis doubles team of junior Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig fell to the No. 1 duo of Pepperdine's Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjento in the final match of the women's doubles bracket of the ITA National Fall Championships in a 6-2, 7-6 (2) finals match on Sunday afternoon in San Diego.
The North Carolina duo of Crawley and Tanguilig came out of the gates strong — despite it being Crawley's second championship match of the day — and gained an early lead in the first game of the match, but Broadus and Tjento were able to claw their way back from 40-0 and ultimately clinch the first game off of deuce.
This began a trend of extended points, but Pepperdine was able to capitalize off of the tired North Carolina team, taking the next two games in a row.
This swung the momentum solidly in the No. 1 ranked teams favor, leading head coach Brian Kalbas to pull the girls to the side of the court to regroup and attempt a comeback.
The first game after the time-out was hard fought, with the teams trading points back and forth to deuce. Ultimately however, North Carolina was able to pull through, forcing uncharacteristic errors from Pepperdine to allow them to win their first game of the match.
The Californian team came back strong however, and proved why they were the top ranked seed in the tournament, winning the next game in a dominant performance to make the score 4-1.
Again though, the UNC pair was able to persevere and scrap their way back to a win in the next game, for a score of 4-2. The teams then traded possession back and forth but Pepperdine was able to finish strong, taking the set in a decisive 6-2 victory.
North Carolina came back for vengeance in the second set, winning the first three games in quick succession. Pepperdine attempted to find an answer in the fourth game, making it to deuce, but were unable to secure the win after getting aced by a volley off the racket of Tanguilig.
Broadus and Tjen regrouped and took the next five games in a row, decisively shifting the momentum in their favor. UNC refused to quit though, and claimed the next game, tying the score up at 5-5 and forcing the second set to be extended.
The two teams battled it out to a 6-6 draw, but Pepperdine was able to again demonstrate their ability to finish strong and held UNC to only two points in the tiebreak to secure the doubles championship.
Who stood out?
Tanguilig proved to be the X-factor of the match, making the difference between two teams that appeared to be evenly matched. Her incredible consistency at the net, and aggressive serve stood out amongst tough competition, but ultimately was not enough to conquer the Californian pair.
Broadus also was exceptional, demonstrating excellent ball control and perfectly placing shots down the middle of the court that UNC was never able to find a solution for.
When was it decided?
From the beginning of the match Pepperdine appeared to be in control, winning the first set in a decisive 6-2 victory and exploiting the weaknesses of the fatigued North Carolina team.
The Tar Heels fought back in the second set, gaining momentum and going on an early hot streak. However, they were unable to retain this run of success, and ultimately allowed their opponents to win 5 straight games in a row, forcing them to a tiebreaker that they then lost.
Why does it matter?
The ITA Fall National Championships are an important method of determining rankings going into the NCAA season.
The tournament also serves as another chance for the relatively new doubles pair of Crawley and Tanguilig — who before the regional tournament had only played together once before — to get a feel for one another and possibly develop a partnership that could be dominant in the future.
When do they play next?
With the culmination of this tournament, fall outdoors play is concluded for the Tar Heels. They will next take the court indoors in the winter, before the spring season and conference play begins.
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