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April 27, 2013
CARY, N.C. – Thanks to a pair of upsets in Saturday’s semifinal round, the title match of the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Tennis Championship will be an all-Sunshine State affair.
Fourth-seeded Miami delivered the day’s first stunner with a 4-3 win over top-seeded North Carolina. Then seventh-seeded Florida State, which had already turned back second-seeded Clemson in a marathon match in Friday’s quarterfinal, met the challenge again with a 4-3 win over third-seeded Virginia.
The in-state rivals will now meet for the ACC title in Sunday’s 11 a.m. championship match at Cary Tennis Park.
If the revenge motive indeed counts for anything, Miami holds the edge. Florida State, then ranked 25th nationally, upset the 11th-ranked Hurricanes by a 4-3 score in the regular-season meeting between the teams at Coral Gables on Feb. 23. Miami will enter Sunday’s final ranked 10th nationally, while the Seminoles currently hold the No. 30 spot in the latest ITA rankings.
Miami’s win over UNC came down to the top singles spots. The Tar Heels trailed 3-2 before ACC Player of the Year Gina Suarez-Malaguti evened the match with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Steffi Wagner on the No. 1 court. But Kelsey Laurente scrapped for a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Zoe DeBruycker at No. 2, lifting the Hurricanes into the finals.
It was the fourth three-set win on the year for Laurente and her third over a ranked opponent. DeBruycker holds the No. 44 spot in the latest ITA singles rankings.
Laurente had earlier played a key role in Miami claiming the doubles point, teaming with Melissa Bolivar on the No. 2 court for a clinching 9-8 victory over DeBruycker and Ashley Dai. Clementina Riobueno accounted for the Hurricanes’ other point, as she downed Caroline Price on the No. 4 court, 6-4, 6-4.
In terms of high drama, the Seminoles matched the Hurricanes on Saturday. Trailing Virginia by a 3-2 score, Florida State rallied with wins on the No. 5 and No. 4 courts to push its way into the finals.
FSU’s Kerrie Cartwright knotted the match at 3-all with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Erin Vierra. With the outcome hanging the balance, Amy Sargeant got the best of the Cavaliers’ Li Xi by a 7-6, 4-6, 7-5 count at No. 4 to seal the win.
The wins by Cartwright and Sargeant capped a stellar singles effort by the Seminoles at singles. Mia Vriens and Kristina Schleich were straight-set winners at No. 3 and No.6, respectively.
Miami (19-5) will be in search of its first ACC women’s tennis title since joining the conference prior to the 2005 season. The Hurricanes have repeatedly knocked at the door under head coach Paige Yaroshuk- Tews, reaching the finals three straight years from 2005 through 2007 before falling to Georgia Tech on each occasion, and again in 2009 before coming up short against Duke.
Florida State (16-8), coached by Jennifer Hyde, will also be in search of it first ACC crown. The Seminoles have reached the finals on two previous occasions, most recently in 2011, when the fifth-seeded Seminoles dropped a hard-fought 4-3 decision to second-seeded North Carolina. This year’s FSU team is seeking to join Georgia Tech, which claimed the title as a No. 7 seed in 2010, as the lowest seeded team to win the ACC Women’s Tennis Championship.
Miami and Florida State have met on three previous occasions in ACC tournament play, with the Hurricanes holding a 2-1 edge.