NOTRE DAME, Ind. — No. 13 North Carolina rallied from 3-0 down to score a thrilling 4-3 victory against No. 23 Notre Dame Saturday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame won a tight doubles point and two singles matches before Zoe De Bruycker, Shinann Featherston, Gina Suarez-Malaguti and Tessa Lyons posted four consecutive wins for the Tar Heels.
“This was a really good win for us, coming back after losing doubles and getting 3-0 down,” head coach Brian Kalbas said after the match. “Notre Dame is always a tough team, especially at home, so I think this will give us a nice momentum boost going into next week.”
The Irish (5-3) got the early advantage thanks to a pair of doubles wins on courts one and two. In a showdown of two of the nation’s top tandems, No. 3 Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews outlasted No. 24 Featherston and Lauren McHale 9-7.
Haley Hemm and Lyons then won their fifth consecutive match on court three, defeating Jennifer Kellner and Chrissie McGaffigan 8-6, setting up court two to decide the point. Julie Sabacinski and Britney Sanders topped De Bruycker and Jennifer Stone 8-5 to clinch the point for the host.
Notre Dame soon made it 3-0 with two straight-set wins on courts two and four. Sanders was first to finish, defeating No. 76 Caroline Price on court four, 6-3, 6-4. Frilling then beat No. 22 McHale on court two, 6-4, 6-1, to push the Tar Heels to the brink of defeat.
But Carolina won the first set on the other four courts and slowly started to chip away at the Irish lead. Featherston got the Tar Heels on the board first, topping No. 124 Kellner on court three, 6-4, 6-4.
Suarez-Malaguti made it 3-2 next, handling McGaffigan in two sets, 6-4, 6-3, on court five.
No. 35 De Bruycker then tied the match at 3 at the top of the lineup, besting No. 39 Mathews in a top-40 matchup, 7-5, 7-5.
From there it was left to court six, where Lyons and Sabacinski were engaged in a three-setter. Lyons took the opening set 6-4, before Sabacinksi returned the favor with a matching 6-4 win in the second stanza.
Set three was all Lyons, however, as the sophomore took control early and rolled to a 6-1 victory to give Carolina its second consecutive win.
“Even down 3-2, I felt pretty good with Tessa and Zoe out there. They’ve been warriors for us, and you could see that they were confident being the last two on.”