Sports, Women's Tennis, Spring

Women’s Tennis Breaks Program Records, But Comes Away Winless Against Wolfpack and Tar Heels

Boston College women’s tennis is starting to come back down to earth. The Eagles kicked off the season with nine straight victories before suffering their first setback last week at Virginia. Two more tough ACC opponents visited Chestnut Hill over the weekend, as No. 2 North Carolina and No. 23 North Carolina State squared off against BC in the Flynn Recreation Complex on Friday and Sunday, respectively. While the Eagles notched a number of historic upsets in singles play, they fell to North Carolina, 5-2 and N.C. State, 5-2.

In doubles play, the Eagles were outclassed by the Tar Heels. Head coach Nigel Bentley paired Kylie Wilcox and Jackie Urbinati for the first time together since the matchup with Harvard on Feb. 1. The switched pairing did not work, though, as Wilcox and Urbinati were topped by the Wolfpack’s Anna Rogers and Alana Smith, 6-2. Second doubles was not much better for BC, as Dasha Possokhova and Elene Tsokilauri fell to Liz Norman and Bianca Moldovan, 6-2. With these losses, N.C. State quickly clinched the doubles point.

BC played much better on the singles side. Playing at second singles, Wilcox, capped off a dominant weekend, defeating Smith in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. Yufei Long suited up in the first singles slot against Rogers. She garnered a victory in the first set, 6-4, but struggled in the second, losing, 6-2. Long then raced out to a 5-2 lead in the third frame, but Rogers stormed back, winning four consecutive games to give herself a 6-5 advantage. While Long was able to tie the set at 6-6, she ultimately fell in the tiebreaker.

Besides Natasha Irani, who defeated Norman, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, the rest of the Eagles struggled in their singles matches. Urbinati couldn’t get anything going against Adriana Reami as she lost, 6-0, 6-2. Moldovan secured a solid victory over Laura Lopez, 6-2, 6-1. Finally, Amanda Rebol withstood a challenge from Tsokilauri as she beat the junior, 6-4, 6-2.  

On Friday, the Eagles also suffered a defeat, but they achieved several milestones in the process. The match did not get off on the right foot, as BC dropped the opening doubles point. North Carolina’s Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham handed Urbinati and Long a loss in the first doubles slot, 6-3. Wilcox and Irani were able to knot the doubles point at one with a 6-4 victory over Sara Daavettila and Alle Sanford. Possokhova and Elene Tsokilauri had the tall task of facing the fourth-best doubles team in the nation in Makenna Jones and Cameron Morra. Possokhova and Tsokilauri put up an admirable fight, but they fell to UNC’s vaunted duo, 6-3.

BC’s finest performances came in singles play, and it started at the top of the lineup with Long and Wilcox, who both upset top-10 nationally ranked opponents. Wilcox, in the second singles slot, faced off against No. 6 Daavettila. The junior dominated the first set, securing a 6-1 decision but fell in the second frame, 6-3. In the third and final set, Wilcox returned to form, prevailing over Daavettila, 6-2. This victory marked the Eagles’ highest ranked win over an individual opponent in program history.

But, this record would be broken minutes later by Long. The Iowa transfer was pitted against Jones—the No. 2 player in the nation—and she cruised to a 6-2 win in the first set. She then suffered a misstep in the second set, dropping a 6-1 decision to Jones. Long regained her mojo, though, and put up a remarkable performance in the third and final set, blanking Jones, 6-0.

At this point, the overall match score stood at 3-2 in the Tar Heels’ favor. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the rest of UNC’s singles lineup proved to be too much for BC to handle, as it dropped the rest of its matches in straight-set decisions. In the third singles slot, Urbinati battled but fell to Graham, 6-4, 6-2. Irani was defeated by Morra, 6-3, 6-1. Laura Lopez dropped a 6-3, 6-2 decision to Sanford. And finally, Tsokilauri lost to Anney, 6-2, 6-2.

While the Eagles have lost three straight contests on paper, they came away with several monumental individual victories and appear to have taken yet another step forward as an ACC contender. BC has shown consistent grit in all three of their losses, fighting its opponents until the very end. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, as the Eagles venture down south to face Wake Forest and Clemson. But, with the way that this team is playing, it’s clear that BC has the talent to compete with the top schools in the nation—it’s only a matter of time before it starts to register consecutive wins against ACC opponents.

Featured  Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor

February 24, 2019