On Monday evening, Boston College women’s tennis clinched its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1997. The Eagles were pitted against Florida, a team that boasted a 12-11 record with a number of impressive wins this season, including three top-25 victories over the likes of Michigan, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. The Gators, ranked No. 24 in the nation, would be one of BC’s toughest opponents all year. And on Friday, Florida lived up to its billing. Despite a strong effort from the Eagles, they ultimately fell to the Gators in the first round of the tournament, 4-1.
Unfortunately for the Eagles (16-11, 5-9 Atlantic Coast), they fell into an early hole. Head coach Nigel Bentley switched up his doubles lineup, putting Yufei Long and Loren Haukova in the second slot and Elene Tsokilauri and Natasha Irani in the third slot. This move didn’t exactly pan out, as both pairs lost their matches, 6-1, giving the Gators (13-11, 7-6 Southeastern Conference) the doubles point. Meanwhile, No. 51 Jackie Urbinati and Kylie Wilcox were well on their way to victory as they led, 5-3, over McCartney Kessler and Victoria Emma. If Urbinati and Wilcox came out on top, it would have been their eighth straight victory as a pair.
Like last time against Wake Forest, No. 70 Long had her hands full in first singles play. In the second round of the ACC Tournament, the Iowa transfer lost to No. 34 Emma Davis in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2. Long suffered a similar fate, but this time against No. 15 Ida Jarlskog. Jarlskog commanded the match right from the get-go, using her power and consistency to keep Long on the run. In the end, Jarlskog blanked Long in a straight-sets victory, 6-0, 6-0.
The Eagles trailed by three after No. 117 Wilcox fell to No. 30 Kessler in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. In the last match of her BC career, senior captain Urbinati went out on a high note, as she beat Davis, 6-2, 6-2. With Florida leading, 3-1, all eyes turned to the sixth court, where Laura Lopez trailed, 6-3, 5-2. But this time around, the freshman couldn’t work her magic—she lost the following game, marking the end of both the Gators’ first-round victory and the Eagles’ season.
Irani’s and Tsokilauri’s matches went unfinished. In her first set, Irani was tied with Marlee Zein at 5-5, but she lost the next two games, ceding the first set. Irani started to find her groove in the second set, as she led, 4-2, but Florida had already clinched the matchup at this point. It was a similar story for Tsokilauri as well. The junior dropped the first set, 6-4, but she then went up, 4-2, in the second frame before the match formally ended.
Friday is the end of a breakthrough season for BC. The Eagles recorded their most wins in two decades and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 years. These are two immense accomplishments for Bentley and Co. And, luckily for BC, this success looks to be quite sustainable. Urbinati will certainly be missed, as she is the lone senior to be departing, but newcomer Hailey Wilcox, the No. 48 recruit in the country and Kylie’s younger sister, will help fill the void next fall. Now that the Eagles have reached the postseason, the pressure is on to make May matches the new normal.
Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor