Tennis Begins Postseason Today
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
The Boston College men’s and women’s tennis teams will begin play in the ACC Championships today in Cary, NC, hoping to make a run and extend their seasons against their conference foes.
This morning, the No. 8 seeded women’s squad (10-12, 3-8 ACC) will take on No. 9 North Carolina State (7-15, 3-8 ACC), whom they beat for the first time in program history two weeks ago, 5-2. The Eagles will be looking to keep that momentum in mind with the season on the line.
“We don’t really have that much to lose,” said Kieran Burke, an assistant coach for the team. “Boston College, in its past, hasn’t won a round at the ACC Championships. We’re really excited, as a team, to go for more, for the program, being the first team to get that win. It would be a huge step in our transition from the Big East to the ACC. Not that the Big East isn’t great, but the ACC is really competitive. So we have a lot to gain, and we’re ready and excited.”
Just two weeks removed from beating the Wolfpack, the Eagles are hoping that win will prove to be helpful in today’s rematch.
“It’s challenging, because they’re a really good team,” Burke said. “A lot of things went right for us in that win. So we don’t want to underestimate them, but we also feel good about it going into the match, knowing we had a win over them. I think we’re in a really good place.”
BC is led by All-ACC honoree and reigning ACC Player of the Week, Erina Kikuchi. As the Eagles’ No. 1 singles player, Kikuchi was the first in program history to win that award. She did so by defeating No. 37 Joelle Kissell in her singles match, clinching the victory for BC over North Carolina State on April 6. Kikuchi also teamed up with freshman star Jessica Wacnik to earn a doubles win, the only one BC had against the Wolfpack. Additionally, Kikuchi and Wacnik earned another win on the No. 1 doubles court against Wake Forest, sparking the Eagles to a 6-1 victory over the Demon Deacons.
“She’s been fantastic,” Burke said of Kikuchi. “She started off the year right around No. 2 or No. 3 in the lineup, and throughout the year she’s just been putting wins together. She had a huge year early, and then a big win against [Kissell], who she’ll match up against again tomorrow.
“She’s been great. She’s also been great off the court as well, it’s just been impressive that she’s a mature leader on the team. She’s done a great job at doubles as well with Jess [Wacnik]. They’ve stepped into the No. 1 doubles role and they’ve been doing really well. All in all, she’s just been the MVP for us.”
Kikuchi holds a singles record of 25-13, while she and Wacnik have racked up a doubles record of 24-6, which leads the team.
“It’s crucial,” Burke said of Kikuchi and Wacnik’s doubles team’s performance. “When we beat NC State, we didn’t win the doubles point. We’d really like to get off to a good start against them and get a point—we start with them. They have a really good shot of taking that match. It’s been interesting putting them together, they kind of just work well naturally. And they’re starting to figure out a little bit more about doubles, like how to complement each other at the net and their movements.”
Meanwhile, Wacnik has stood out for her play in singles matches as well. In her freshman campaign, she has gone 20-12 in those matches, including 11-1 during tournament play. Bentley has been impressed with Wacnik’s play as a freshman, and is excited about her future in the program.
“She’s had a lot of development, in addition to the success,” Burke said of Wacnik. “She’s worked really hard on the practice court and on the court during her matches. She’s been a real big-time player. She hits the ball really cleanly and plays really aggressively. We couldn’t have asked more of her coming in. She’s been in a place where we’ve really relied on her for wins and in the doubles as well. It’s been really impressive, and it’s fun to watch her come in as a freshman, new to the whole thing, and conquer some of her nerves and transition into being a crucial part of the team. So we’re thrilled about her.”
Other key contributors for the Eagles this weekend will be the doubles pair of Alex Kelleher and Olga Khmylev. They enter the ACC Championships with a doubles record of 15-13, including a 10-4 mark in tournament play.
If the Eagles are able to get by the Wolfpack again, they will have a tough test in the second round, against No. 1 Duke on Friday. The Blue Devils are undefeated in conference play, and have lost just twice during the entire season.