Apr 25, 2010
CARY, N.C. --- No. 1 North Carolina fell one win short of its first Atlantic Coast Conference title since 2002 when the top-seeded Tar Heels fell to seventh-seeded and No. 20-ranked Georgia Tech, 4-3, Sunday afternoon in the ACC final at Cary Tennis Park. Despite singles wins from Katrina Tsang, Jelena Durisic and Shinann Featherston, UNC (26-4) was unable to overcome losing the doubles point for the first time in the tournament.
Georgia Tech (18-9) was forced to play from behind early in doubles, as Carolina quickly jumped ahead on all three courts.
Featherston and Jocelyn Ffriend was first to finish on court three, as the Tar Heel tandem rolled past Elizabeth Kilborn and Viet Ha Ngo, 8-2.
After Lynn Blau and Hillary Davis outlasted Durisic and Sophie Grabinski at No. 2, 8-6, the point came down to court one.
Tsang and Sanaz Marand raced out to a 3-0 lead before the Yellow Jacket pair of Irina Falconi and Sasha Krupina won six consecutive games to take a 6-3 advantage. Carolina responded with a hold and a break to make it 6-5, but Georgia Tech was able to stem the tide and finish off the Tar Heels, 8-5.
A quartet of straight-set singles matches set the stage for a pair of dramatic three-setters to decide the title.
UNC evened the score at 1 behind Durisic's 6-3, 6-2 victory over Krupina on court three. The Tar Heels then took their first lead of the day thanks to Featherston's 6-0, 6-2 thumping of Davis at No. 6.
Georgia Tech pulled even after Kilborn finished off Grabinski, 6-2, 7-5, on court five. Grabinski made it tough, however, as the senior rallied from down 5-1 in the second to tie the set at 5 before Kilborn ultimately came out on top.
Carolina got its final point of the afternoon from Tsang at No. 2, as the Raleigh, N.C., senior grinded out a tough 6-2, 6-4 victory over Ngo to make it 3-2.
But the underdog Yellow Jackets, playing their fourth match in as many days, would not be denied on their way to a fourth ACC crown in program history.
On court four, Blau rallied from a set down to defeat Gina Suarez-Malaguti, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, putting all eyes on the top of the lineup.
Two of the best singles players in the country, No. 22-ranked Marand and top-ranked Falconi staged an epic match.
Falconi, the newly-minted ACC Player of the Year, cruised through the opening set, 6-1, before Marand righted the ship to win the second, 6-3, and force a third.
Neither player could consistently hold serve in the blustery conditions, as the two traded breaks throughout the final set before Falconi had the first chance to serve for the title at 5-4.
Marand spoiled three match points with a solid return game, but the Katy, Texas senior could not get back Falconi's final winner, and Georgia Tech finished off the upset victory to claim the ACC title.
Carolina will now await word on its placement into the NCAA Championship bracket. As one of the nation's top teams throughout the season, UNC can anticipate hosting first- and second-round matches at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center in Chapel Hill.