Last weekend, Virginia women’s tennis extended their winning streak to five games as they defeated both Wake Forest and NC State. At the Virginia Tennis Facility at Boar’s Head Resort, the Cavaliers (16-4, 8-3 ACC) started the weekend with a 5-2 win over the Demon Deacons (15-4, 7-3 ACC) on their senior day. They continued their streak on Sunday with a 4-3 nail-biter, with the match coming down to second-placed Sara Ziodato on the final single course.
Before their first game on Friday, the Cavaliers celebrated Senior Day by honoring seniors Amber O’Dell and Sofia Munera.
The fight against Wake Forest started strong for Virginia on the double track, despite an uncharacteristic first loss from No. 17 second duo Emma Navarro and Hibah Shaikh, who were just barely defeated by No. 13 second time Brooke Killingsworth and senior Anna Brylin.
The Cavaliers were still able to win the double point as the other pair Munera and Natasha Subhash, and freshman Elaine Chervinsky and O’Dell were able to pull through for Virginia. Munera and Subhash completed a quick 6-3 defeat of Wake Forest graduate student Samantha Martinelli and senior Peyton Pesavento, while Chervinsky and O’Dell fought a close battle and ultimately earned the point in a 7-5 victory.
Virginia dominated the singles courts with No. 5 Navarro and No. 40 Subhash, defeating their respective opponents No. 35 senior Carolyn Campana and junior Anna Campana in equal sets. Munera quickly followed up with another point against Brylin and secured the victory for the Cavaliers on her senior day.
At this point, Virginia was up 4-0 in the match, but the Demon Deacons were still fighting. Martinelli defeated Shaikh and Killingsworth defeated O’Dell to put Wake Forest on the board. In the end, the match ended with one last point for the Cavaliers. Ziodato beat senior Saby Nihalani and secured Virginia’s 5-2 victory.
As seniors O’Dell and Munera secured double and final singles points, respectively, coach Sara O’Leary could only give praise.
“They really led the team today with their energy, faith and toughness, and it’s exciting to see the determination they go into this final part of our season with,” O’Leary said.
On Sunday, Virginia returned to its home court to fight Wolfpack (20-4, 7-3 ACC). Navarro and Shaikh were defeated once again, this time by graduate student Jaeda Daniel and senior Nell Miller. This loss marked the pair’s second in both the weekend and the entire season. Chervinsky and O’Dell equalized the doubles match by winning their game, but Munera and Subhash were defeated by No. 26 sophomores Amelia Rajecki and Abigail Rencheli, giving the match its first point to NC State.
On the singles tracks, there were even more controversial points. Shaikh equalized for Virginia with a win over sophomore Sophie Abrams in a straight set, but Rajecki defeated Munera shortly after to put Wolfpack up again.
Navarro and Subhash quickly fought back and won their respective matches against No. 12 Daniel and No. 33 Rencheli. At this point, the Cavaliers were about to win the match 3-2 and only needed one more point to secure the victory. No. 61 freshman Priska Nugroho, however, pushed past Chervinsky for a draw.
In the end, all eyes fell on the match between Ziodato and Miller on the sixth lane, whose winner would determine the outcome of the match. The first two sets were split close, but the last set ended with a 6-1 victory by Ziodato, who left the match to Virginia.
“I think we knocked on the door with some of these top teams,” O’Leary said. “We had a healthy team out there today, so it makes a big difference because we have not been in that position in the last eight games or so. I think it really helped the energy today and we are just excited to move on.I think we will continue to build on this.
The Cavaliers look forward to extending their winning streak away from home in their last two games of the regular season. They will face the last two ACC opponents, Clemson on Friday in Clemson, SC and Georgia Tech on Sunday in Atlanta, Ga, before the ACC tournament starts at Rome Tennis Center, in Rome, Ga.