UNC wins first NCAA women’s tennis title

The Tar Heels avenged their only loss of the season, beating rival NC State in the championship match

No. 1-ranked UNC took home its first NCAA women’s tennis title Saturday in Orlando, defeating Tobacco Road rival and fourth-ranked NC State 4-1 in the championship matchup.

The Tar Heels were the undisputed top seed all season, having lost just a single match — a 4-1 loss in the ACC Championship to the Wolfpack. They were not going to be denied their second chance at bringing a trophy back to Chapel Hill.

“A lot of special teams have come real close in the last 10 to 13 years, and this team got it done,” said UNC coach Brian Kalbas to the Tennis Channel, which broadcasted the match. “This team was special since Day 1, and I’m just so proud of everybody. What a great victory for our program.”

UNC started off the match with the advantage as they took the doubles point, 2-1, but NC State answered by winning the first singles point thanks to a 6-3, 6-4 win by Diana Shnaider over Reese Brantmeier on Court 1.

However, the Heels started to pick up momentum when Fiona Crawley, the No. 1-ranked player, took care of business with a 6-2, 7-6 win over Alana Smith for UNC’s first singles win of the match.

Elizabeth Scotty followed suit with a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Abigail Rencheli, and Carson Tanguilig sealed the victory with a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over Amelia Rajecki to crown the Tar Heels as champions.

“I wouldn’t be here without my teammates, and I think just looking over to them and hearing them, seeing Scotty fight so hard on this court, Anika [Yarlagadda] and Reilly [Tran] of course forcing third sets,” Tanguilig said. “It’s amazing and it only makes you want to compete harder and harder. You just have to put your head down. Our support was amazing if you couldn’t hear. I think that’s what helped me through it. Definitely couldn’t have done it on my own.”

Despite being one of the top teams for the past few years, the Tar Heels reached the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2014.

UNC also became the first Triangle-area university to win the title since Duke in 2009.

It was also just the first time in program history that the Wolfpack had made it to the NCAA Championships, making a spectacular run through the bracket that included knocking off Stanford, the winner of 20 out of the 41 total NCAA titles, in the semifinals.

It marked the second time that the two rivals had ever faced off against each other with an NCAA championship on the line. The last time was in 1988 when UNC defeated NC State in women’s soccer.

The win was UNC’s second NCAA title of the school year — the other belonging to the Tar Heels’ field hockey team — and the school’s 49th all-time championship. Thirty-six of those championships have been won by a women’s team.