The NC State women’s tennis team were represented by junior Alana Smith and fifth-year Anna Rogers in the NCAA Singles Championship. While Smith dropped her first match, Rogers made it all the way to the quarterfinals, making her the first NC State women’s tennis player to reach the quarterfinals.
Smith dropped her match in the first round of the NCAA tournament on May 23, falling to Alexa Noel from Iowa, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. This brings the end of a fantastic season for the No. 2 singles player at NC State whose last singles ranking made it all the way to No. 23 in the country.
Smith started the season off strong, winning her first three singles matches and 11 out of her first 14 matches overall. Not only did she win early, but she won against the best competition. Smith won five of her seven matches against teams ranked inside the top 25. While it wasn’t the ending she was hoping for, there’s a lot to be proud of for Smith.
Smith and her opponent were locked in a tight matchup from the beginning. The first set came down to Noel’s ability to put Smith in defensive situations. In the second set, Smith came roaring back. Smith struggled to find her serve but it didn’t matter as she always saved her serve, going 16/16 on second serves and was great in her games returning. Smith forced Noel into five breakpoints, whereas Smith was only forced into one during her second set service games.
With the match tied at one set apiece, Smith needed to win the third set to keep her singles season alive. With her back against the wall, Smith certainly held her own but came up just short. Needing to win a game to send the set into a tiebreaker, Smith dropped the game and the match, falling in the third set 7-5. Across the three set thriller, only six points separated the Smith and her opponent.
Rogers was the No. 6 seed coming into the tournament and her run came to an end in the quarterfinal, when she ran into Janice Tjen from Oregon. While falling short of the lofty goal of the championship, she became the first player in program history to reach the round of 16 and then the quarterfinal in the NCAA Singles Championship.
Rogers had an incredible season as the No. 1 singles player for NC State. Rogers, similarly to Smith, got off to a great start to her singles season. She won her first six matches and went 12-2 in her first 14 matches of the season. Rogers struggled down the stretch, going 2-8 in her last 10 matches of the regular season and postseason. However, she refound her early season form at the right time to make a run at the NCAA singles tournament championship.
To start her tournament off, Rogers took on Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine. The pair went back and forth all throughout the three-set match. Roger was able to jump out to an early lead, taking the first set 7-5. She then dropped the second set 4-6 to tie the match at one set apiece. After going down 2-3 in the final set, Rogers went on a roll to take the final four games and the match, winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
This set up a second round match against Maryland’s Ayana Akli. With a spot in the round of 16 on the line, both players were sharp. Rogers came out early and set the tone for the first set, easily taking it 6-2. The second set was back and forth throughout. Neither player dropped a breakpoint until the very end of the set where Akli took a breakpoint and the set. Rogers had played the better match but needed to come through in the third set to move on to the next round. She did just that and played up a break for the whole set to win the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
In the third round, Rogers took on Bunyawi Thamchaiwat of Oklahoma State. In the first set, Rogers dropped a breakpoint late and lost the set 7-5. Rogers and Thamchaiwat traded breakpoints all throughout the second set but Rogers came through in the end, taking the second set 6-4. With the end in sight, Rogers ramped up her play and dominated the third set to win the match 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.
In the quarterfinal, Rogers couldn’t get much going against Tjen. Rogers only broke her opponent’s serve once in each set, while losing on six of the ten break points she allowed. Roger’s would end up losing the match 6-2, 6-3. This brought about an end to one of the most storied singles careers in program history. With Rogers’ name plastered all over NC State’s record book, her collegiate career will not soon be forgotten.