Women’s tennis drops two conference matches

The No. 12 ranked women’s tennis team was headed into the toughest stretch of their season, facing two of the top-five teams in No. 3 UNC and No. 4 Duke on the road on April 9 and 10, respectively.

The Jackets, at 4-3 in the ACC, were trying not to drop to a losing conference record. However, Tech could not pull off an upset on either day, falling in each team match by the score of 5-2.

Tech began their road trip in Chapel Hill, N.C. to face the Tar Heels, needing a major upset to earn the team win. The Jackets fell early, not earning a point until the match was already won by UNC.

UNC took an early lead by winning the doubles portion of the team match. Junior Lynn Blau and sophomore Elizabeth Kilborn lost 8-1 to UNC’s team of Shinann Featherston and Jelena Durisic in a match that was never close. Blau and Kilborn were overpowered early on and struggled to find the adjustments necessary to win the match.

Junior Jillian O’Neill and junior Caroline Lilley faced UNC’s best tandem, No. 53 ranked Lauren McHale and Zoe De Bruycker. O’Neill and Lilley managed to put away their opponents quickly, winning 8-3 and tying the doubles portion at 1-1.

The Jackets would lose the doubles portion in the final match, with junior Viet Ha Ngo and senior Sasha Krupina losing easily to Haley Hemm and Tessa Lyons of UNC. The loss gave UNC the early point in the team match and gave them momentum going into the singles portion.

Singles play began with a 6-1, 6-4 loss by Krupina on court five. Krupina made some adjustments in the second set but couldn’t respond to an early break by her opponent, Gina Saurez-Malaguti, and eventually lost in straight sets. Another 7-5, 6-3 straight set loss by Lilley put the Jackets in a 3-0 hole early, with the Jackets relying on an upset by O’Neill on court one to stay in the match.

However, O’Neill could not pull off the upset against No. 15 Zoe De Bruycker, also falling in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. The Jackets had already lost the team match, but would respond by winning two of the three remaining singles matches to not be swept by the Tar Heels.

On court four, Blau earned Tech’s first point of the day in a 6-4, 6-4 straight set victory over No. 125 Lauren McHale. Blau pushed McHale around the court, and made all of the shots she needed to hit earn the win.

Kilborn played a long match on court six, attempting to rally after dropping her first set to Teresa Lyons in a three-set match. Lyons eventually earned the victory over Kilborn, however, winning 6-7 (0-7), 6-1, 10-6.

To wrap up the singles portion, Ngo earned a hard fought 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 victory over No. 81 Shinann Featherston to give the Jackets their second point of the day. The late push wasn’t enough, with the Jackets still falling in the team match 5-2.

Tech was then looking for a quick, one-day rebound, while facing the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils in Durham, N.C. However, the Jackets could not find an answer until late again and lost 5-2.

O’Neill and Lilley started the doubles portion off by downing the No. 71 ranked Rachel Kahan and Ellah Nze 8-4. However, Ngo and Krupina could not finish a close match on court three, and lost 8-6 to tie the doubles portion.

The Blue Devils took the early 1-0 lead however, with Nadine Fahourn and Hanna Mar beating Blau and Kilborn 9-7 on the second court.

Tech lost the team match early, dropping their first three singles matches to fall into a 4-0 hole in their second consecutive team match. Singles play had Kilborn falling to No. 64 Mary Clayton 6-4, 6-2. This was immediately followed by another straight set 6-4, 6-3 loss by Krupina on court five.

Duke secured the team match with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 win by No. 45 Nadine Fahourn over No. 46 O’Neill. After dropping the first set late in the tiebreak, O’Neill could not handle the adjustments by Fahourn and lost the second set quickly.

Blau earned Tech’s first point of the day with a 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-3) victory over No. 59 Elizabeth Plotkin.

Despite dropping the first set, Blau rallied to win the match with an early break point in the second set. The Blue Devils then responded with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) victory from No. 13 Reka Zsilinska over Ngo to bring Duke to 5-1 in the team match.

To end singles play, Lilley defeated No. 77 Ellah Nze 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 and finalized the team match score at 5-2.

The Jackets will look to rebound when they return home to Bill Moore Tennis Center on Saturday, April 16 to face the Virginia Tech Hokies. Georgia Tech will then face the Virginia Cavaliers at home on Sunday, April 17.

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