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Cavalier senior defeats top-seeded Hayley Carter to claim second NCAA title of her career
TULSA, Okla. (virginiasports.com) – Virginia women’s tennis senior Danielle Collins (St. Petersburg, Fla.) claimed her second NCAA title on Monday (May 30), defeating top-seeded Hayley Carter of North Carolina 6-3, 6-2 at the Case Tennis Center.
Collins (38-4), the No. 2 seed in the tournament, picked up her second NCAA title in three years with the straight-set victory. Collins also claimed the 2014 NCAA Women’s Singles Championship as a sophomore.
“I think mentally it was a lot tougher to win this one but I did it and I don’t really know how at this point (if it feels sweeter) as it’s kind of a blur,” Collins said. “It’s pretty sweet to go out winning a national championship again to end my career. I’m just very fortunate.”
The run to the title saw Collins defeat No. 61 Anna Shkudun of Syracuse, No. 57 Jessie Aney of North Carolina, No. 33 Arianne Hartono of Ole Miss, No. 13 Jasmine Lee of Mississippi State and No. 6 Luisa Stefani of Pepperdine before downing the top-ranked Carter in the finals.
“We are so happy for Danielle,” said Virginia head coach Mark Guilbeau. “What an amazing effort and performance from both Danielle and Hayley…and not just today, but all season long. These two are impressive and have pushed each other to new heights. We are so excited for the future Danielle has as a player. Many great things are ahead for her.”
Collins is only the seventh woman to win two NCAA singles titles in a career and the first from the Atlantic Coast Conference to accomplish the feat. Six other women, five of them from Stanford, have all won two NCAA singles titles in their career. Collins joins an elite group that includes: Patty Fendick (Stanford – 1986, 1987), Sandra Birch (Stanford – 1989, 1991), Lisa Raymond (Florida – 1992, 1993), Laura Granville (Stanford - 2000, 01), Amber Liu (Stanford – 2003, 2004) and Nicole Gibbs (Stanford - 2012, 2013).
It was the fourth time Collins and Carter battled this season. Carter claimed the first meeting in Charlottesville during the regular-season matchup, while the two prior postseason matchups went unfinished. The pair met in the ACC Tournament semifinals and the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 team matches.
“Hayley (Carter) is such a tough competitor and she gets every ball back and never gives up,” Collins said. “So a lot of the matches that we’ve played in the past have been really close, she’s beaten me a couple times and I’ve beaten her a couple times so I knew it was going to be a really tough match and I was going to have to play my absolute best to beat her. She wasn’t going to give me any free points so going out there I had to focus and concentrate so hard every point, especially with how many balls she was getting back. I just really had to tap into my focus a lot differently than maybe I would’ve had to in other matches just because of how tough she really is.”
The first set was a back-and-forth of momentum swings as Collins grabbed the first three games only to see Carter fight back and win three consecutive games to tie the set. Collins then closed things out, grabbing the three final games to take the first set 6-3.
Collins got the first break of the second set and then used another on the way to a 5-1 lead on Carter. The top-seeded player wouldn’t go quietly, however, holding serve to cut the lead to 5-2 and threatening to break Collins in the eighth game of the set.
The Cavalier senior battled back to deuce in the game before holding serve to grab the win with a 6-2 victory in the second set, securing the title.
“There are so many people to thank,” Guilbeau said. “The staff at Tulsa was so kind and helpful. They ran a great event. Thank you to the NCAA and ITA staffs, and to all the officials. Also, a huge thank you to UVA Athletics, our fans and friends, and all of our women’s tennis staff and support group. And as much as any, thanks to coach Troy Porco for all of his incredible work and care all along. This is a great way to end this season. We have all gained so much and learned a ton during the process of this season.”