No. 1 North Carolina women’s tennis team (19-0) defeated No. 26 Georgia Tech (7-5) 6-1 on Friday in Atlanta, Georgia.
The top two UNC doubles teams struggled against the Yellow Jackets, falling into an early deficit. No. 3 duo junior Fiona Crawley and sophomore Carson Tanguilig was the only Tar Heel team to fall, losing 2-6.
On court three, graduate student Abbey Forbes and junior Reilly Tran started off strong, winning four games to take the lead. However, the North Carolina doubles team struggled to put it away, allowing the Yellow Jackets to tie up the game, 4-4. But, Forbes and Tran halted the Georgia Tech comeback, scraping by with a 6-4 win.
The doubles point was ultimately decided on court one. After getting off to a slow start, No. 15 duo of first-year Reese Brantmeier and senior Elizabeth Scotty found their rhythm and came back to tie the match 4-4. Winning a key break point, Brantmeier and Scotty took the lead, 5-4, for the first time in the match.
The set remained tightly-contested, and Georgia Tech’s junior Carol Lee and sophomore Kate Sharabura tied the score 6-6 to force a tie-break. A slow start plagued the North Carolina duo once again, and they lagged behind 2-4 when the teams switched sides.
Brantmeier and Scotty increased their aggressive play at the net and movement on the court to stage another comeback, tying up the score 6-6. The UNC duo clinched the doubles point for the Tar Heels with a cross-court volley from Brantmeier to win the match, 8-6.
Every singles match was a hard-fought battle. No. 22 senior Anika Yarlgadda put a second point on the scoreboard for the Tar Heels, stopping Georgia Tech’s senior Rosie Garcia Gross’ run late in the second set. Tran and No. 15 Tanguilig survived tie-breaks to clinch the match for North Carolina.
Brantmeier and Crawley cushioned the victory in set tie-breaks, with Brantmeier coming out on top against No. 27 sophomore Kylie Bilchev and Crawley defeating No. 8 Lee.
Who stood out?
Tran and Yarlagadda came out hot for singles. Both dominated their first set. Tran pulled away with a 6-2 win, while Yarlagadda did not give up a single point, decisively winning her first set 6-0.
However, both Tar Heels faced a tougher test in their second set.
Yarlagadda took an early lead, but Garcia Gross grabbed two game points to tie it up 3-3. By targeting Garcia Gross’ backhand and forcing more errors, Yarlagadda grabbed two more points, but struggled to finish it out. Only up one at 5-4, the UNC senior increased her movement up to the net and changed the placement of her serve to finally clinch the set point.
Tran faced a similar late set surge. While she was up 4-1, Georgia Tech’s Sharabura went on a three-game win streak to tie it up. The match stayed within one point for the remainder of the set, leading to a 6-6 tie. Tran did not relent, and she only gave up 2 points in the tie break to add another point to the scoreboard for North Carolina.
When was it decided?
Tanguilig easily swept her opponent in the first set 6-2, but lost all momentum in the second. Falling 2-6, the North Carolina sophomore was forced into a third set tie-break. Getting off to a better start, Tanguilig took an early lead that she did not relent, winning the decisive set 6-2 and officially clinching the match for UNC.
Why does it matter?
With the early advantage of the doubles point hanging in the balance, Brantmeier and Scotty played more disciplined and reduced the number of errors to comeback from behind and clinch. Although doubles play remains an area that needs improvement, the outcome of Friday’s doubles match suggests North Carolina is capable of adapting its doubles play style and overcoming major point deficits.
No singles match was easily won, and three matches moved to a tie-break. However, as the undefeated Tar Heels have shown all season, the team can handle tightly-contested matches and still come out on top.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels face the Clemson Tigers at noon on Sunday in Clemson, South Carolina.
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