Heading into the weekend, it appeared that Boston College women’s tennis was poised to close out the regular season on a high note. After all, the Eagles had recently upset No. 27 Miami and defeated Pittsburgh last weekend to extend their winning streak to four games. But following a misstep against Notre Dame, BC struggled on Sunday against No. 4 Duke. The Blue Devils commanded the match from both the singles and doubles courts, cruising to a 4-0 victory.
During doubles play, Jackie Urbinati and Kylie Wilcox continued to excel for the Eagles (15-9, 5-9 Atlantic Coast). The No. 72 pair dominated against No. 81 Kelly Chen and Ellyse Hamlin, 6-1. Unfortunately for BC, Duke (21-2, 13-1) stormed back from this early deficit to claim the doubles point. In the second slot, No. 23 Kaitlin McCarthy and Meible Chi ousted Natasha Irani and Dasha Possokhova, 6-2. While the first two matches were lopsided, the third was much closer. In a narrow contest, Loren Haukova and Elene Tsokilauri fell to Maria Mateas and Margaryta Bilokin, 7-5.
In singles, many BC players fell in quick succession. Wilcox, who played at number one singles, could not get anything going against Chen, who she defeated earlier in doubles. The junior fell in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1. Manning number four singles, Laura Lopez encountered similar issues. Hamlin controlled the match from the onset, as she bested the freshman, 6-2, 6-0. Possokhova’s match wasn’t particularly close, either. She was beat by Bilokin in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0.
Three matches went unfinished, but Duke was in control of most of them. Senior captain Urbinati actually topped Chi, ranked 18th nationally in singles, in the first set, 6-4. Chi led in the second set, 3-1, before the overall match was decided. Irani and Maria Ross were on the brink of defeat at number three and number six singles, respectively. Irani was losing to McCarthy, 6-1, 3-2, and Ross trailed Hannah Zhao, 6-3, 5-1.
Playing without Yufei Long has certainly hurt the Eagles. The Iowa transfer has operated at number one singles for much of the season, and her absence over five of the last six matches has left a hole in the roster, especially in these last two contests.
BC has finished the regular season with a 15-9 record, a massive step forward that matched its highest win total in 15 years. While the Eagles suffered some setbacks along the way—one of which being a mid-season five-game losing streak—they posted several impressive upsets, including victories over Syracuse and Miami. Not only that, but they also posted a clean 10-0 record in non-conference play. Over the course of the season, it became clear that BC could clean up inferior opponents while simultaneously staying competitive with some of the best teams in the country.
The Eagles are not done yet, though. This team is aiming for success in the postseason. Following this weekend’s matchups, BC earned the No. 11 seed in the ACC Tournament, which translates to a first-round matchup with the No. 14 seed, Louisville. The Eagles defeated the Cardinals earlier this year on the road, 5-2. While BC heads into the postseason with a two-game skid, Louisville is in far worse shape, as the Cardinals have lost 11 straight games.
This is certainly a winnable matchup for BC. Not only could the Eagles make a run in the ACC Tournament, they could also end an ignominious streak. BC has not made the NCAA Tournament since 1998. But as it stands, the Eagles are currently one of the last four teams projected to make the NCAA Tournament. The ACC is projected for 10 bids, so the Eagles are right on the edge of a tournament berth. When BC travels down to Cary, N.C., it will find itself playing for some of the program’s highest stakes in the past decade.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff