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Graduate student Jaeda Daniel prepares to backhand the ball during the match against Notre Dame on Saturday, April 16, 2022 at Dail Outdoor Tennis Stadium. The Wolfpack won 7-0.

The No. 6 NC State women’s tennis team beat No. 22 Tennessee 4-1 in the second round of the 2022 NCAA tournament, earning the team its third straight appearance in the Super Regional round of 16. 

The 4-1 scoreline initially gives a deceptive view of the match, which in reality was tightly contested from beginning to end by the Volunteers. However, the Pack put on multiple impressive singles performances that allowed the squad to run away with the commanding win despite losing the early doubles point. 

With the doubles round won by the Volunteers, NC State had to win four singles matches to advance and did so in spite of the fierce competition the team was met with. To clinch the match, No. 11 graduate student Jaeda Daniel survived a dramatic second set where she fended off multiple set points from her opponent. To decide the set and the match overall, Daniel won one of the most entertaining and dramatic tiebreakers all season long. After multiple set points for both sides, Daniel finally won the breaker 12-10 in an epic point. 

Daniel’s game-clinching point was met with an ecstatic celebration from her teammates as the team leader and college tennis veteran secured the Wolfpack’s advance in the tournament with her special match-clinching win. 

“It was amazing,” said Daniel. “It’s my fifth year, so it’s really exciting to feel like I am helping the team in whatever way. And having them run at me after the match, it’s been a while since I’ve been the clinch, so it’s really nice and I’m just happy to help them.”

While Daniel won the final singles match 6-3, 7-6 (12-10), three other NC State members also claimed impressive wins that pushed the team past the Volunteers. The first to get NC State on the board was sophomore Amelia Rajecki, who got the easiest win of the day on court five as she cruised past her opponent 6-1, 6-2. 

After Rajecki put the Pack on the board, there was a long break in scoring as the intense singles matches played out. After this break, however, the pieces started to fall into place for NC State on the scoreboard. Sophomore Sophie Abrams made it 2-1 with her 7-5, 7-5 win on court six as she was able to edge out her opponent twice at the end of each closely contested set.

The final two wins came through in quick succession for NC State, starting with senior Nell Miller’s comeback win on court four. After losing her first set, the senior stormed back and took the next two in dominant fashion, winning 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. 

Once Miller put the Pack into clinch position at 3-1, Daniel put the Volunteers away just minutes later with her clutch win on court one, finishing a day where the Pack’s singles lineup stepped up after losing the early doubles round. 

The doubles point, which is usually claimed by NC State’s dominant doubles roster, was taken by Tennessee. While Abrams and freshman Priska Nugroho won 6-4 on court three, the other Pack pairs failed to win another court and Tennessee took a 1-0 lead. Ultimately, however, the Vols would not be able to add to it for the rest of the day.  

NC State’s singles lineup needed to deliver after losing the early doubles point. After hours of competing in multiple close matches, the Wolfpack impressively came through and won four straight singles matches to successfully advance past a tough Tennessee team. 

“These were close matches and I think the big one is to get through this one,” said head coach Simon Earnshaw. “Once you get through this one, I think it starts to open up a bit more, but especially with our expectations, that's why I always felt like this was going to be tricky.”

Along with the NC State men’s tennis team, who punched its ticket to the round of 16 on Saturday, May 7, both tennis squads continue to make statements this season within their respective competitions. This combined success in the 2022 season increasingly makes NC State a force to be reckoned with in college tennis. 

However, the road remaining for the women’s squad will not be easy. With only the best teams to face from here on out, NC State will absolutely have to play its best tennis the rest of the way. The next of these challenging opponents will be No. 11 California, who will travel to Raleigh as NC State has earned the right to host in the Super Regional Round. 

“I'm expecting it to be a battle as well,” said Daniel. “I don't know that much about the team, but I know for us, we look a lot on our side of the court and what we need to do and how we need to prepare. So I'm sure that we’ll really put our heads down to go to work this week.”

NC State will battle California on Saturday, May 14 at 3 p.m. in the Super Regional round of the NCAA Championships.