No. 21 Women's Tennis upsets No. 4 North Carolina, 4-3
Jan. 21, 2012
FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. – Texas junior All-American Aeriel Ellis saved a match point against her and converted a match point moments later to seal the 21st-ranked Longhorns’ 4-3 season-opening victory over No. 4 North Carolina Saturday evening in an indoor match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Tar Heels are the highest-ranked team to fall victim to the Longhorns since 2005, when Texas topped No. 2 Florida in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships.
With the match tied at three, the 47th-ranked Ellis’ match at first singles against the Tar Heels’ 16th-ranked Lauren McHale progressed to a third-set tiebreaker, where McHale set up match point with a 7-6 lead. Ellis took the remaining three points to win the tiebreaker, 9-7 and give the Longhorns the fourth and match-clinching point. Ellis’ final tally read 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (8).
“They fought tooth-and-nail and really raised the level of their games,” UT head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said. “It came down to Aeriel Ellis at the end. She had a couple of match points and finally got it done. We’ve been telling the team that if they’re willing to fight hard and believe in each other that they would give themselves the opportunity to win. They did it, and I’m so proud of them.”
North Carolina claimed two of three doubles matches to win a tightly-contested doubles point and assume a 1-0 lead before the Longhorns answered with consecutive victories at the sixth, fifth and fourth singles positions. Sophomore Elizabeth Begley made short work of UNC’s Haley Hemm, winning by a 6-2, 6-2 count at sixth singles to even the match. Freshman Lina Padegimaite knocked off the Heels’ Gina Suarez-Malaguti by a 6-2, 7-5 count at fifth singles to give the Longhorns a 2-1 lead.
Sophomore Cierra Gaytan-Leach pushed the Texas lead to 3-1 after outlasting UNC’s 55th-ranked Caroline Price at fourth singles, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. The Tar Heels responded with lengthy three-set wins at the second and third singles positions to even the match at three before Ellis delivered the clinching victory at first singles.
Texas completes its weekend stint in New York City with a match on Sunday against No. 9 Virginia at 11 a.m. Central.
No. 21 Texas 4, No. 4 North Carolina 3