Projected as one of the last four teams to make the NCAA Tournament by Slam.Tennis, Boston College women’s tennis entered its first round ACC Tournament matchup against Louisville with plenty on the line. While the Eagles defeated the Cardinals earlier in the season by a comfortable 5-2 margin, they didn’t enter the postseason with much momentum, dropping contests to both Notre Dame and No. 4 Duke. Against Louisville, though, BC returned to form at a crucial time, as it earned a 4-1 victory.
Although the Eagles (16-9, 5-9 Atlantic Coast) ultimately secured the doubles point, they did not start off in the best fashion. Yufei Long returned from her absence to partner up with Dasha Possokhova at second doubles. Unfortunately for BC, the two struggled greatly against Louisville’s (10-15, 2-12) Sena Suswam and Chloe Hamlin, as they fell, 6-0. Meanwhile, on the third court, the Eagles evened the match, thanks to Elene Tsokilauri and Loren Haukova, who defeated Aleksandra Mally and Diana Wong, 6-4.
The doubles point rested on the shoulders of the Eagles’ number one team, Jackie Urbinati and Kylie Wilcox. The duo found itself trailing, 6-5, against Raven Neely and Dina Chaika and faced two match points. Under this immense pressure, Urbinati and Wilcox dug deep and prevailed. They forced a tiebreaker, which they won, 9-7, giving BC the early lead.
The Eagles carried over this momentum into singles play. Four BC players won their first set, and from there, they didn’t look back. Laura Lopez, operating in the sixth singles slot, was the first Eagles player to earn a solo victory as she cruised past Wong in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. Not long after, Long rebounded from her doubles defeat and notched a straight-set victory over Nikolina Jovic at first singles with a near-identical score, 6-3, 6-2.
Natasha Irani ultimately sealed the victory as she, too, won in straight sets. The sophomore triumphed over Mally, 6-3, 6-3, at fourth singles to clinch the BC win. While Urbinati lost to Suswam in straight sets, Tsokilauri and Wilcox were well on their way to victory. Wilcox won her first set against Neely, 6-3, lost the second, 7-5, and was leading in the final set, 5-1. Tsokilauri edged out Hamlin in the opening set, 7-6, and was winning, 4-3, in the second set.
Not only does this victory boost the prospects of BC earning an NCAA Tournament berth, it also marks the Eagles’ 16th victory of the season—its highest total in two decades. Wednesday’s win proves what has been evident all season long: When BC is firing on all cylinders, it can take down any team in the country.
The Eagles will hope to replicate this performance on Thursday in the second round against the ACC’s sixth seed, Wake Forest. Earlier this year, the Demon Deacons defeated BC in Winston-Salem, 6-1. That loss came during the Eagles’ season-worst five-game losing streak. Should BC play up to its full potential on Thursday, the result will likely come down to the wire.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff