No. 8 North Carolina comes back in singles to win ITA Team Indoor title
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- No. 8 North Carolina completed its run through the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on Monday, defeating top-seeded and No. 2 UCLA 4-3 to claim the program's first team national title. For the second time in three days, freshman Whitney Kay won a three-setter to clinch the final point, this time winning the final set in a tiebreak.
Just as they had against third-seeded USC in the quarterfinals, the Tar Heels (9-0) struggled early in doubles and ultimately dropped the point to the top-seeded Bruins.
Kyle McPhillips and Catherine Harrison topped No. 51 Lauren McHale and Tessa Lyons on court three 8-4 before No. 16 Robin Anderson and Skylar Morton bested No. 8 Kay and Ashley Dai on court one 8-6 to give UCLA (6-1) the day's first point.
Carolina was in the unenviable position of needing to win four of six singles matches against a strong Bruin lineup headed by one of the nation's top players in Anderson. But the Tar Heels got off to a strong start in singles and won the opening set on four of six courts.
UCLA took the first singles win of the title match on court four as Chanelle Van Nguyen defeated McHale 6-4, 6-0 to put the defending champion up 2-0.
No. 11 Gina Suarez-Malaguti got UNC on the board next with one of the best wins of her four-year career. She beat No. 6 Anderson in consecutive sets 6-3, 6-4 at the top of the singles lineup.
Lyons was next to finish on court six. She returned to the lineup after sitting out each of the last two days and handled Courtney Dolehide in consecutive sets 6-1, 6-4 to even the dual at two.
No. 36 Caroline Price gave Carolina its first lead of the day with her 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 win against Harrison on court five.
Suddenly it was UCLA on the brink of defeat as the Bruins needed the final two matches to retain the crown.
No. 47 McPhillips got the first necessary point on court two, defeating No. 28 Zoe De Bruycker in three sets 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
No. 21 Kay and Pamela Montez were left to decide the championship and the final match went the distance on court three. Kay took the opening set 6-2 before Montez rallied to take the second 6-4.
The third set was close throughout, and despite several chances, Kay was unable to get a late break. Montez spoiled a pair of break points to hold for a tie at four and Kay had her first match point of the day at 5-4. But Montez was able to keep the match alive and the two traded holds before needing a tiebreak to end it.
Kay got out to a 4-2 lead at the first changeover and won a pair of points on her serve to get it to 6-3. Montez fought off the first two match points, but Kay hit a clean forehand winner to win the tiebreak 7-5 and the match 6-2, 4-6, 7-6.
For UNC, the win marks the program's first team championship in its second ITA indoor final. The Tar Heels fell to Northwestern in the 2010 title match, setting the tone for a season that saw Carolina reach the No. 1 national ranking and the semifinals of the NCAA Championship.