How Sweet It Is: Lady Razorbacks in NCAA Sweet 16 for first time since 1998
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Freshman Delia Damaschin spoiled host No. 14 North Carolina’s party on Saturday surging the 17th-ranked University of Arkansas Lady Razorbacks into the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, 4-3.
Although Damaschin only appeared in ten dual matches this season, the native of Onest, Romania shined bright, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, over Meg Fanjoy thrusting Arkansas into its first Sweet 16 in ten years.
Arkansas (17-9) will look to advance into the Elite Eight of the tournament for the first time in program history at 3 p.m. Thursday against No. 2 Georgia in Tulsa, Okla.
“Today was a really special college tennis match not only overall, but for our program as well,” said Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty.
For the fourth-straight match the Lady’Backs ignited momentum by claiming the doubles point. After being down 5-4, No. 23 Aurelija Miseviciute and Ela Kaluder fought back, 8-5, upsetting No. 15 Sanaz Marand and Sophie Grabinski. The clincher was earned by Maryori Franco and Nanar Airapetian over #58 Katrina Tsang and Austin Smith, 8-6, giving Arkansas the early 1-0 lead.
“Doubles was the usual critical point in today’s total team effort,” Hegarty said.
Tigu displayed a star-studded performance, 6-4, 6-2, over No. 94 Smith pushing Arkansas a head 2-0 quickly against the Tar Heels (18-9).
UNC would not give up that easily with the home-crowd behind them as they claimed three straight courts to suddenly gain momentum and the lead, 3-2. Grabinski dropped Bordeleau, 7-5, 6-2. Lauren Reichert tied the match at 2-2 with a victory over Airapetian, 7-5, 6-4, while No. 9 Marand upset No. 1 Miseviciute, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, for the short lead.
“We knew UNC was an excellent team, and they were even better than we thought here today,” Hegarty said.
Kaluder, ranked No. 73 in singles, declared a win over No. 28 Tsang, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2, taking the life out of the home crowd to set up the match clincher by Damaschin.
“I really believe us playing in so many close 4-3 matches proved to be the difference for our team here today,” Hegarty said.
Visit LADYBACKS.COM throughout the week for the ultimate preview of Arkansas’ NCAA Tournament match against No. 2 Georgia on Thursday.
#17 Arkansas- 4
#14 North Carolina- 3
1. #9 Sanaz Marand (UNC) def. #1 Aurelija Miseviciute (UA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
2. #73 Ela Kaluder (UA) def. #28 Katrina Tsang (UNC) 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2.
3. Anouk Tigu (UA) def. #94 Austin Smith (UNC) 6-4, 6-2.
4. Laura Reichert (UNC) def. Nanar Airapetian (UA), 7-5, 6-4.
5. Sophie Grabinski (UNC) def. Audrey Bordeleau (UA) 7-5, 6-2.
6. Delia Damaschin (UA) def. Meg Fanjoy (UNC) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Match Notes: (Order of Finish: 3,5,4,1,2,6*)
1. #29 Aurelija Miseviciute/Ela Kaluder (UA) def. #15 Sanaz Marand/Sophie Grabinski (UNC), 8-5.
2. Maryori Franco/Nanar Airapetian (UA) def. #58 Katrina Tsang/Austin Smith (UNC), 8-6.
3. Audrey Bordeleau/Anouk Tigu (UA) led Laura Reichert/Alex Jurewitz (UNC), 7-6.
Match Notes: (Order of Finish: 1,2*)