Junior Sophie Abrams yells as she celebrates winning her first set during the match against Auburn at Dail Outdoor Tennis Stadium on Saturday, May 13, 2023. Abrams won her singles match 6-1, 6-1. The Wolfpack defeated the Tigers 4-0.

For the third straight season, NC State women’s tennis has punched its ticket to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships thanks to a sweeping 4-0 win over No. 18 Auburn in the round of 16. 

While NC State is running it back with an appearance in the quarterfinals, this postseason has been especially impressive for the Pack. With its win over the Tigers, NC State moves to 12-0 in total match score in the Championships after sweeps against South Carolina State and Kansas last weekend. Additionally, after tearing through its competition in the ACC Championships, NC State is still undefeated this postseason.

The Wolfpack’s (26-4) match against the Tigers (20-9) went similarly to its two previous wins. Dominant doubles showings and a slew of strong singles performances allowed NC State to simply outmatch and overpower its opponents. But no matter how much Auburn may have battled, especially in singles, it was business as usual for the red-and-white in its last home match of the season.

“I think, having been to the [NCAA Quarterfinals] the last two years, we sort of expect [a win],” said head coach Simon Earnshaw. “...Auburn was not going to go away…Why not give it everything they've got and throw everything they can at it and I think to their credit they did and didn't make it very easy for us.”

Like a large majority of its matches on the season, NC State claimed the early doubles point with ease. No. 4 freshman Diana Shnaider and graduate student Alana Smith won court one via a 6-1 decision while No. 9 fifth-year senior Nell Miller and junior Amelia Rajecki won 6-3. 

After gaining a 1-0 lead, NC State eventually took three straight singles matches to clinch the win. However, the​​ Tigers put up much more of a fight in singles, pushing the Pack to its limits in a majority of its first sets. Despite the challenge, though, NC State still pulled out five out of six first set wins, two of which came via tiebreak. 

However, junior Sophie Abrams was the only one to dominate her competition from beginning to end. Abrams clobbered her opponent 6-1, 6-1, finishing her entire match before most courts were through their first sets. 

Both No. 7 Shnaider and junior Gina Dittmann ultimately pulled out first set wins through tiebreak wins. Additionally, No. 13 Smith fought tooth-and-nail for her first set, and pulled it 7-5, rounding out NC State’s hard-fought first set wins. 

Eventually, it was Shnaider and Smith who won their matches within mere minutes of each other to clinch the 4-0 win. Smith found her groove, taking her second set 6-0 on court two, while Shnaider struck the killing blow — a 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 win on court one that stopped play on all other courts. 

After the win in Raleigh — its final one of the season — NC State travels to Orlando, Florida for the final rounds of the Championships where it’ll take on No. 12 Iowa State on Wednesday, May 17. However, the Wolfpack is confident in its abilities, no matter the opponent. 

“I think we match up pretty well with pretty much anyone,” Smith said. “So if we just keep competing and fighting hard, I think we have a good chance.”

After a potential win over the Cyclones, NC State is poised to reach the Final Four yet again when competing in Orlando. Potential semifinal matches against Stanford and Texas A&M are exciting, but the red-and-white doesn’t aim to stop there. 

“We made the Final Four in Orlando last time,” Earnshaw said. “I think we potentially have a better team now — doesn't guarantee anything — but we played down there earlier this year so there's a lot of familiarity and hopefully that brings the best out of the team. I think if it does, we're hard to stop.”

As of now, NC State is on a collision course with none other than its rival — UNC-Chapel Hill — in the final round, making for a potential NCAA Championship of epic proportions, especially considering the Pack’s stunning win over the No. 1 Heels in the ACC Championship. 

Carolina is still the favorite for the crown, but it would only be fate for the two squads to meet once again to decide it all in the title match. However, the red-and-white is set to potentially play three matches in four days in Orlando, and will need to lock in if it's to bring home the first team national championship title in program history. 

“[We need to] lock in and I think we've trained a lot this year for this exact moment,” Smith said. “So I think we’ve just got to be locked in and ready to go.”


Hi, my name is Ethan Bakogiannis, Editor-In-Chief at the Technician and a sophomore studying Business Administration and Sport Management. I love all sports but mainly cover tennis and soccer for TechSports. 

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