Team USA, led by North Carolina junior Fiona Crawley and graduate student Ryan Seggerman, defeated the United Kingdom, 4-3, in the finals on Sunday to claim the MasterU’ BNP Paribas Championship for the 10th time.
Eight nations participated, each of which had a team of three women and three men. The format of the tournament consisted of three knockout rounds, each of which were best of seven, with every team playing four singles and three doubles matches in each round.
The championship began on Friday, with Team USA facing off against Germany. Crawley, playing in the No. 1 singles spot, was the first to record a win, trouncing Nicole Rivkine in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3. Seggerman ultimately found success as well and after a hard fought first set, he came out on top to defeat Jordi Walder 7-6, 6-3. The rest of Team USA followed suit and swept Germany in singles play to secure a trip to the semifinals.
Saturday saw Team USA facing off against France. The host nation showed a great deal of fight that caused almost every match to go down to the wire.
Crawley, after uncharacteristically dropping the first set of her singles match 6-1 to Alice Robbe, rallied back in an impressive and gritty showing to defeat her opponent 7-5, 10-8. Seggerman was unable to do the same and dropped his match against Francois Musitelli 6-4, 7-6. After singles play had concluded, France and the United States found themselves tied at 2-2.
Team USA, who had faltered the previous day in doubles play by conceding two of its three matches to Germany, came out firing. They were able to secure both women’s and men’s doubles victories to clinch their trip to the final round.
Team USA squared off against Great Britain in the championship-deciding last day of the tournament. Once again, the two teams found themselves knotted at 2-2 after singles play had concluded. Crawley, after remaining undefeated in singles throughout the fall season, lost for the first time, falling to Holly Hutchinson 6-3, 4-6, 5-10. But for the second consecutive day, the pair was able to rally back and triumph in doubles.
Crawley and Berkley’s Haley Giavara won 6-3, 2-6, 17-15 in a hotly contested game, and Seggerman and USC’s Stefan Dostanic picked up a 7-6(3), 6-3 victory to secure Team USA’s ninth championship in 10 years.
Who stood out?
Crawley stood out as a leader of Team USA from the start, entering the tournament as the No. 1 ranked women's singles player in the United States. She played singles each day and was crucial to her team's advancement to the final round with her victories on Friday and Saturday.
When was it decided?
Team USA and Great Britain appeared to be on even footing heading into the final round of the tournament, and traded blows back and forth throughout the singles round, making it impossible to tell who was going to emerge on top.
However, Crawley and Giavara’s doubles victory swung the momentum in Team USA’s favor, which they would then capitalize on with a championship deciding win in men’s doubles.
Why does it matter?
The MasterU’ championship pits some of the best college players from around the world against each other, making it an important testing ground for upcoming spring conference play.
The chance for Crawley and Seggerman to play against the best of the best was an invaluable opportunity for them to hone their skills. The ultimate victory of Team USA continues the forward momentum that North Carolina tennis has built throughout the fall and puts them in a better position to perform in the coming months.
When do they play next?
North Carolina women's tennis next takes the court to kick-off the indoor season against Elon on Friday, Jan. 3rd. The men's tennis schedule has not been released, but the Tar Heels will begin their indoor season at the beginning of January.
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