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Women's Tennis Heads to Sweet Sixteen

For the fourth consecutive year, Mark Guilbeau has his women's tennis squad headed to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

Clive Brunskill

The streak may not be as impressive as the men's streak (11), but for four consecutive years, Virginia women's tennis head coach Mark Guilbeau has led his squad to the sweet sixteen in the NCAA tournament.

What's a little different this year is that Virginia is seeded #3 in the entire tournament - higher than the defending national champion men's team, which comes in at #4 in their tournament.

And the ladies are playing like it.

On Friday, the Cavaliers hosted Youngstown State in the first round. It went as well as it should have, with the home team blanking the visitors 4-0, taking the doubles point and winning at #6, #4 and #3 singles, all in straight sets.

On Saturday, in what might have been a bit of foreshadowing for what would happen with the men's team the next day, the ladies dropped the doubles point to Kentucky, including a surprising 8-3 loss by the #7 doubles team in the country, Julia Elbaba and  Rachel Pierson.

But that would be all the scoring the Wildcats could muster.

Virginia sophomore Stephanie Nauta tied the score at 1-1 with a 3 & 4 straight set win at #3 singles. Elbaba then gave the Cavaliers the lead, avenging her doubles loss by winning at #1 singles in straight sets 4 & 0. Elbaba's opponent, Nadia Ravita was on the doubles team that beat her just minutes earlier.

Pierson also got some revenge (though not against the same opponent) at #4 singles, winning 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).

Sophomore Maci Epstein clinched the victory for Virginia with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win at #5 singles.

One thing to note: The Cavaliers played 7 different members of the squad during the contest against Kentucky. Two were seniors (Caryssa Peretz at #6 singles and Li Xi at #1 doubles). Everyone else was either a sophomore (4) or a freshman (1). Good sign for the future, eh?

The Cavaliers next travel to Athens, GA to take on 14th seed Baylor at noon on Thursday, May 15th.