Top-ranked North Carolina gets past 11th-ranked Northwestern 4-3
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 1 North Carolina was tested for the second time this week, but the Tar Heels were once again able to handle a tough road opponent, topping No. 11 Northwestern 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at Combe Tennis Center. After a wild doubles point, Caroline Price, Zoe De Bruycker and Gina Suarez-Malaguti got singles wins to clinch the dual.
The day's opening point came down to a tiebreak on court one. Price and Whitney Kay ran out to a 5-2 lead against the No. 8 team of Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton before the Northwestern duo rallied back to break two times in a row and take a 6-5 lead.
The Tar Heels broke right back, then held serve and had a pair of match points in the ensuing game, but NU eventually held to make it 7-7. Both teams held to force a decisive tiebreaker and the Wildcats had a match point at 6-5 before Price and Kay took the next three points to win the doubles point in a thriller.
Carolina (16-1) quickly went ahead 3-0 thanks to a pair of dominant singles wins from De Bruycker and Price. De Bruycker put together one of her best matches of 2013 in disposing of No. 64 Kate Turvy in consecutive sets 6-1, 6-2 on court two. Price moved to 15-0 in duals with her 6-3, 6-3 victory against Alicia Barnett on court four.
But the Wildcats (8-6) responded, taking the opening set on three of the other four courts. Abu Mushrevova got NU on the board with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against No. 124 Ashley Dai at the No. 6 spot. At No. 5, Brittany Wowchuk rallied back from a 5-2 deficit in the opening set to win 7-5, 6-4 against Lauren McHale.
It would ultimately be Suarez-Malaguti who secured the dual with a win at the top of the lineup. She took the opening set 6-3 before No. 125 Belinda Niu evened the match with a 6-2 win in the second. After the two split the first two games of the final set, Suarez-Malaguti notched consecutive breaks and finished out the 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win to take the dual.
In the day's final result, No. 23 Kay dropped her first match of the spring to Veronica Corning 7-5, 5-6, 6-4 on court three.