The No. 1 North Carolina women’s tennis team (7-0) capped off its dominant performance in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship by capturing its fifth ITA Indoor National Title with a 4-3 win over No. 3 Texas (7-1) in the final round — the first consecutive ITA Indoor titles in program history.
The Tar Heels defeated No. 9 Ohio State easily in the first round with a 4-0 win, winning all six of the singles matches and losing only one of three doubles matches.
UNC took care of business again in the second round against No. 5 Pepperdine with a 4-1 victory. The Tar Heels won all of their singles matches and lost only one doubles match against the Waves. UNC’s victory against Pepperdine placed the team in the national championship match against the No. 3 Texas Longhorns, who defeated No. 13 Northwestern and No. 2 UCLA in the first and second rounds.
UNC’s matchup against Texas was scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. but didn’t start until 10:35 p.m. because the Pepperdine vs. UCLA consolation matchup ran late.
“This might be the latest I’ve ever started and finished a match, well worth it though,” No. 3 senior Alexa Graham said.
The Longhorns gave UNC its toughest test of the tournament. After losing two doubles matches, the Tar Heels needed to win four of their singles matches to get the overall victory. Despite an unusually late start and trailing a tough, talented opponent, UNC won four singles matches to claim its fifth ITA Indoor National Title.
Who stood out?
No. 4 senior Sara Daavettila stood out throughout the tournament with several strong performances. Against Ohio State, Daavettila defeated Kolie Allen 6-2, 6-0, and then beat Texas’ Peyton Stearns 6-3, 6-4 in the final round. No. 79 sophomore Elizabeth Scotty also stood out by keeping her composure in pressure situations. Scotty narrowly clinched the Tar Heels’ win in the first round with a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Ohio State’s Lisa Hofbauer, and with the national title on the line, defeated Texas’ No. 125 Charlotte Chavatipon 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 to clinch the title.
“After really struggling yesterday and losing a tough first set, she could’ve packed it in,” head coach Brian Kalbas said. “You could see the look on her face when she was out there, she was not ging to be denied. As a coach, that’s special to see that. She’s as tough as they come, and I’m really proud of her.”
The No. 45 doubles team of Scotty and junior Cameron Morra also played well during the tournament. Despite an unfinished match in the final round, Morra and Scotty posted strong outings in the first round with a 6-3 win over Ohio State’s Hofbauer and Luna Dormet, and in the second round with a 6-1 win against Pepperdine’s Astrid Olsen and Nikki Redelijk.
When was it decided?
Scotty’s 6-2 victory in the third set of her match against Chavatipon lifted UNC to its fifth ITA Indoor National Title. Scotty’s win against Ohio State’s Hofbauer also sealed the Tar Heels’ victory against the Buckeyes.
No. 120 first-year Fiona Crawley sealed the Tar Heels’ victory against Pepperdine with a 6-4 victory in the second set of her match.
Why does it matter?
In addition to their fifth title, the Tar Heels’ matchup against Texas marked the seventh straight time UNC has reached the ITA Indoor Championship final. Scotty said sending UNC’s five seniors off with a victory on one of the sport’s highest stages meant a lot to her and the team.
“We love them, and we couldn’t have done this without them,” Scotty said. “It’ll be sad for them to go, but we have to be prepared for that at the same time.”
When do they play next?
UNC continues its season on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at home against UNC-Charlotte.
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