For the second-straight year, the North Carolina Tar Heels women’s tennis team came agonizingly short of a national championship, falling in the final four. While UNC fought to the end, they came up short losing 4-2 to Texas to end their NCAA Tournament run.
It was a great season for UNC, as they went 28-3 and got the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, but unfortunately the run ended just two wins short.
As we’ve discussed before, the way the NCAA tennis team tournament works is that each round consists of three doubles matches and six singles matches. Each singles match is worth a point, while whatever school wins two of the three doubles matches also gets a point. Whatever team wins four points first wins the match.
UNC quickly got themselves into a hole, as they lost two quick matches to the Longhorns to lose the doubles point and fall behind 1-0.
Singles didn’t get off to a great start as Texas players won the first set on three different courts and looked like they might run away with things. As the Longhorns were picking up a second point, Fiona Crawley got UNC on the board with a straight sets win.
Cameron Morra nearly forced a third and decisive set against the #2 player in the county, UT’s Peyton Stearns, but the Longhorn won the match to put them up 3-1. Anika Yarlagadda answered back with a win, leaving the match down to two matches that both went the distance.
Elizabeth Scotty was one of the Tar Heels who lost their first set, but she rallied to win the second 7-5, crucially keeping hopes alive. Unfortunately, on another court, Allura Zamarripa couldn’t hang on as Texas picked up the fourth and final win that they needed to advance.
It was a tough way to lose, but getting it 4-2 with the final two matches being so close was an accomplishment in and of itself, as it looked dire for a while.
While they couldn’t get any vengeance after losing in the final four last year, on Friday, they did get some vengeance on the team that knocked them out in 2021. Facing the Pepperdine team that defeated UNC out in the semifinals last year, the Tar Heels got some revenge, defeating them 4-3 in a matchup that went down to the wire.
In the doubles point, the Heels won fairly easy as the pair of Fiona Crawley and Elizabeth Scotty won their match 6-1, as a Pepperdine injury retirement in another match gave Morra and Reilly Tran the win in a match they were leading 4-1. UNC were also ahead in the other doubles match that did not finish.
However, things flipped when the singles matches started as Pepperdine players took the first sets in four of the six matches. Waves’ players ended up two straight sets to go up 2-1 before Scotty won a match to even things up.
That meant things would be decided by three matches that all ended up going to a third and decisive set. Freshman Carson Tanguilig came up huge, giving UNC a 3-2 lead with a 6-3 3-6 6-2 win. However, Pepperdine fought back as Crawley came up just short.
That meant a trip to the final four all came down to one match. After picking up a couple breaks of serve, Anika Yarlagadda finished off a come from behind win, rally back from a set down to send the Heels onto the next round.