May 14, 2010

Courtesy of North Carolina Athletics

No. 2 North Carolina advanced to the second round of the NCAA Women's Tennis Championship for the 10th consecutive season with a resounding 4-0 win over Richmond Friday afternoon at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. After needing less than 30 minutes to win the doubles point, Carolina got straight-set victories from No. 54 Katrina Tsang, Gina Suarez-Malaguti and Shinann Featherston to clinch the victory and a second-round date with No. 36 UNLV Saturday morning at 11.

UNC (27-4) showed no ill effects of the 19-day layoff since last month's ACC Championship, storming out to a 1-0 lead on the strength of a pair of nationally-ranked doubles tandems.

No. 13 Sophie Grabinski and Sanaz Marand, playing together for the first time since April 10, dropped just one game in blitzing Erin Clark and Alex Smyth at the top position, 8-1. No. 31 Tsang and Featherston then clinched the point with a spotless 8-0 victory over Kelly Tidwell and Isabel Arana at No. 2.

The Tar Heels wasted no time jumping ahead in singles, as the Atlantic 10 champions from Richmond (8-11) struggled to keep pace.

Featherston was first off, disposing of Arana without dropping a game at No. 6. The 6-0, 6-0 victory was Featherston's team-best 24th of the spring against just three losses, and the sophomore standout improved her record at No. 6 to a sparkling 15-2.

Tsang made it 3-0 just a short time later, as the Raleigh, N.C., senior made quick work of Tidwell at No. 2. Tsang lost just one game en route to a 6-0, 6-1 victory, pushing the Spiders to the brink of elimination.    

Suarez-Malaguti finished off the visitors with her 6-3, 6-1 win over Smyth at No. 5, giving Carolina it's tenth straight NCAA first round victory and 11th in 12 all-time trips to the tournament.

Marand and Grabinski were both up a set when the match was abandoned at 4-0.

UNC will now focus its attention on the 36th-ranked Rebels out of the Mountain West Conference. UNLV (22-4) outlasted No. 25 VCU, 4-3, in Friday's early match. The winner of Saturday's showdown, which is set to begin at 11 a.m., will earn a spot in next week's NCAA Sweet Sixteen in Athens, Ga.