The No. 6 NC State women’s tennis team picked up its third win of the NCAA Championships on Saturday, May 16, taking down USC 4-1. With this win, NC State will move onto the quarterfinals for the first time in program history, where it will take on No. 3 Georgia. While the win was by a convincing score, USC was not to be taken lightly after its solid run in the tournament.
USC had taken down not one, but two schools ranked ahead of it, both of whom were ranked inside the top 25. After traveling to Gainesville, Florida for its opening matches of the NCAA tournament, USC opened up the tournament with a tight 4-3 win over No. 22 Oklahoma. It carried that momentum into its next match where it dominated No. 11 Florida in one of the biggest upsets so far in the tournament.
Despite USC’s strong opening to the tournament, NC State seemed to be in charge from the start of the match. The top two doubles pairs led the way for NC State. No. 12 fifth-year Anna Rogers and junior Alana Smith opened up the match with a 6-1 win. The doubles point was secured shortly after when No. 5 senior Jaeda Daniel and fifth-year Adriana Reami also won their set 6-1 and put the Wolfpack up 1-0 over the Trojans.
This has been a consistent trend for the Wolfpack who has won the doubles point in all three of its NCAA tournament matches. All three have come at the hands of the same pairs, with Rogers/Smith and Daniel/Reami each winning three doubles sets across the matches.
The Pack was able to capitalize on its early lead, continuing its control over the match in singles play. No. 82 freshman Abigail Rencheli started off singles play when she put the Pack up 2-0 with a dominant win. She won her match 6-1, 6-3 in a match she controlled from the beginning.
The Wolfpack’s first, and most significant, struggles came in the second singles match to finish when No. 6 Rogers lost her match 4-6, 2-6. While the loss didn’t mean much for the Wolfpack as a team, it's part of what has a tough stretch for Rogers. She has lost her last two singles matches in straight sets and was on track to drop her second set when NC State’s first round match finished. In fact, Rogers hasn’t won a singles match since her victory on April 9 in the Wolfpack’s win over Virginia Tech.
While those losses haven’t derailed the Wolfpack’s postseason success, it could spell trouble for the team as it will have to win three more matches against some of the best teams in the country to secure a national championship. Not only could her struggles affect the team, but Rogers is the No. 6 seed in the NCAA singles tournament set to start on May 23. With so many big matches on the horizon, hopefully NC State’s top-ranked player can right the ship before the team’s next match.
After Rogers’ loss, the Wolfpack went on to win its next two matches. Reami and Daniel both started strong with 6-1 wins in their first sets. Following that, they both dropped their second sets before coming back to win three set matches. Reami finished her match winning 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 and Daniel won 6-1, 2-6, 6-1. The two matches put the Pack over the top, beating the Trojans 4-1.
With NC State’s victory, it will now move on to face No. 3 Georgia in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships. The match will take place in Orlando, Florida on May 19.