The NC State women’s tennis team will take on the Duke Blue Devils in a hard-fought Sweet 16 matchup on Friday at Ambler Tennis Stadium in Durham at 6 p.m.
For the first time in program history, the Pack will be heading to the Sweet 16 after breezing through VCU and Tennessee in the first two rounds of the NCAA Championships. Now with a short trip to Durham to face Duke, the elite eight is on the line for both squads.
NC State, currently ranked No. 12, has gone 24-6 overall this season with one of those few losses coming at the hands of the Blue Devils in April. With the Blue Devils ranking No. 5 and holding an impressive 25-3 record, there is no question this will be a tall task for the Pack.
In the previous battle against the Blue Devils, the Pack fell short with a 5-2 loss in Durham. In the singles matchup, senior Amanda Rebol and No. 71 freshman Alana Smith were the only two players to put points on the board for the Pack.
Rebol won her match after dropping the first set 2-6 but won her next two matches 6-3 and 6-4. Meanwhile, Smith won her matchup in a similar fashion, losing the first set 2-6 and then edging out her opponent, then-No. 32 Kelly Chen, 6-4 and 7-5.
In the doubles matchup, now-No. 7 junior Anna Rogers and Smith remained the only pairing out of three to win for the Pack, with a 6-4 win against then-No. 81 Kelly Chen and Ellyse Hamlin.
Since the last matchup between these two powerhouses, the Blue Devils have improved, with Chen and Hamlin jumping the rankings from No. 81 to No. 47 and Maria Mateas bumping from No. 13 to No. 11 in singles.
On the other hand, the Pack has also jumped in the rankings. Smith climbed from No. 93 to No. 71 in singles while Rogers and Smith were able to move from No. 9 to No. 7 in doubles.
With the Blue Devils beating the Pack in its last matchup in April and being ranked higher in the tournament, NC State finds itself as the underdog in Durham. However, with the team’s success this year, it would be foolish to count the Pack out of this one.
The match is set to begin Friday at 6 p.m. in Durham with a berth to the Elite Eight and a trip to Orlando, Florida on the line.