WACO, Texas -- North Carolina’s Jamie Loeb defeated No. 2 seed Carol Zhao of Stanford to win the 2015 NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles National Championship on Monday afternoon.
The seventh-seeded player in the field, Loeb won in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, pinning the first loss on Zhao since March 22, and in the process snapped a 15-match win streak for the All-American Cardinal.
Loeb (31-5) is the first singles national champion in Carolina women’s tennis history. Cinda Gurney reached the title match in 1993. Loeb joins Jenna Long and Sara Anundsen, who won the 2007 doubles title, as the only NCAA champions in program history.
“It was definitely a tough match, all the way around,” Loeb said. “First set, I think I came out really strong and was in control of all the points. Second set, I gave up a little bit. I started forcing some of my shots and missing. It was a battle, with so many games and a lot of close deuce games. Some of them I won, some I lost, but I think I came back really well in the third set and played like I did in the first set.”
Weather played a significant role over the past two weeks in Waco, and Monday was no different. The match began outside and Loeb dominated the first set to the tune of a 6-2 win.
Then the rains came with Zhao up 1-0 in the second set. The venue change didn’t seem to bother Loeb as she was close to winning in straight sets after leading 4-2 in the second, however Zhao fought diligently and won the next four points to capture the set and send the finale into a third set.
Playing her sixth three-set match in the past 10 days in Waco, Loeb took the opening point in the third set on a service break, but Zhao answered right back for a 1-1 tie.
Loeb broke Zhao for a third successive time in the third set to gain a 4-1 advantage and continued on for the 6-1 victory.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” Loeb said. “I’ve been dreaming of this. Last year, when I lost in the quarterfinals, and ever since, I’ve really wanted to redeem myself. I think I came out here and just swung and had no pressure on myself.
“For the university, it’s great. There’s no one that has won a singles championship at UNC. We have a great program, both athletically and academically. It’s a great school and I’m just really happy to represent them.”
Loeb is the seventh sophomore in the past 11 years to win the NCAA singles championship.
Loeb became the first freshman in almost 30 years to win both the Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championship and the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship in the same season back in the fall of 2013.
The 2014 ITA National Player of the Year, Loeb won the inaugural American Collegiate Invitational in the fall of 2014 and has already earned ACC Player of the Year honors twice. She owns a staggering 84-9 career record in singles competition.