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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Miami Women Slip Past North Carolina 4-2 as Thursday's Third Round Ends Early Friday

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Athens, GA--

Miami had lost to North Carolina 4-3 earlier this year, but the Hurricanes turned the tables on the Tar Heels, beating their ACC rivals 4-2 in a rain-delayed third round match at the McWhorter courts.

Due to rain earlier in the evening, the doubles point was played on the Feild courts, and unlike their previous meeting, Miami took the early 1-0 lead, winning at doubles lines 2 and 3.

"The doubles point is always pretty darn important at this level," said Miami coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews. "We lost the doubles point tight to them the last time we played them--we were up and had opportunities--so to come out and close it out was good."

North Carolina coach Brian Kalbas decided to remove Lauren McHale from the No. 2 singles spot, moving everyone in his lineup on spot higher.

"She's been having a little foot problem," Kalbas said. "She could have played, but for us to try to do as well as we can this tournament, we took a chance that we could win four singles matches without her. I'm happy with the girls that played; that's not why we lost. We had good chances and it just didn't work out."

Yaroshuk-Tews said Kalbas' move was a surprise to her team.

"I think it was a great move," said Yaroshuk-Tews. "It kind of put us behind the eight ball in some positions, so it was a great move. For our girls to kind of maneuver around that and still get the job done...but that's what UNC does. They play their best tennis when they're down, so you've got to keep your foot on the gas, and keep pressing, and it's not always easy."

The seventh-seeded Tar Heels overcame the 1-0 deficit with singles wins by Tessa Lyons, who made quick work of Liat Zimmerman at No. 5, and Caroline Price, who took care of Lina Lineikite at No. 3.  Anna Bartenstein made it 2-2 with a win over Zoe De Bruycker at No. 1, and Brittany Dubins gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 advantage with a victory over Haley Hemm at 6.

"We've been saying all year long if we can win matches at 6, we'll pull out nights like tonight," said Yaroshuk-Tews. "Dubins is playing her best tennis of the last two years. She came up huge for us."

With Gina Suarez-Malaguti of North Carolina leading 4-2 in the third set against Melissa Bolivar, it looked as if Gabriela Meja would provide Miami's fourth point, as she had a 6-4, 5-2 lead over Shinann Featherston at 2 as the hour approached 1 a.m.  In that eighth game, which was over 15 minutes long, Featherston saved four match points before finally holding.  Meja went up 40-0 serving for the match at 5-3, and Featherston saved those three match points as well to make it 5-4.

Unfortunately for North Carolina, Bolivar was mounting a comeback of her own, and she won three games in a row to take a 5-4 lead over Suarez-Malaguti.  Featherston and Meja were still battling when  Bolivar broke Suarez-Malaguti to give No. 10 seed Miami a 4-2 win and a date with Florida in Saturday's quarterfinal.

"I think Mellie (Bolivar) was a different competitor today," said Yaroshuk-Tews. "After she lost to Suarez the last time, we were very upset with her, not with the loss, but the way she competed. So for her to come out here today and do what she did was unbelievable."

Despite the 1:24 a.m. finish to the match, Yaroshuk-Tews didn't think it had a major impact on her team.

"Sometimes as coaches we think it might, but it's 1:30 in the morning, and these are college kids, so this is like another day at the park for them.  I don't think it played that big of a role. It's a tough day when you're starting your match at 9:20 at night, it's a tough day leading up to it, but once we got on court, we were ready to go."

#10 MIAMI (21-4) def. #7 NORTH CAROLINA (24-7), 4-2 - McWhorter Courts
Head Coaches: Brian Kalbas (NORTH CAROLINA) and Paige Yaroshuk-Tews (MIAMI)

1.     #4 Shinann Featherston/Lauren McHale (NORTH CAROLINA) def. #20 Melissa Bolivar/Liat Zimmerman (MIAMI), 8-4
2.     #76 Lina Lileikite/Gabriela Mejia (MIAMI) def. #81 Haley Hemm/Tessa Lyons (NORTH CAROLINA), 8-4
3.     Anna Bartenstein/Brittany Dubins (MIAMI) def. Caroline Price/Gina Suarez-Malaguti (NORTH CAROLINA), 8-6

1.     #18 Anna Bartenstein (MIAMI) def. #38 Zoe De Bruycker (NORTH CAROLINA), 6-2, 6-4
2.     #106 Shinann Featherston (NORTH CAROLINA) vs. #27 Gabriela Mejia (MIAMI), 4-6, 4-5, unfinished
3.     #104 Caroline Price (NORTH CAROLINA) def. #71 Lina Lineikite (MIAMI), 6-3, 6-1
4.     Melissa Bolivar (MIAMI) def. Gina Suarez-Malaguti (NORTH CAROLINA), 1-6, 6-4, 6-4
5.     Tessa Lyons (NORTH CAROLINA) def. Liat Zimmerman (MIAMI), 6-1, 6-1
6.     Brittany Dubins (MIAMI) def. Haley Hemm (NORTH CAROLINA), 6-0, 6-4

Order of Finish
Singles: 5,3,1,6,4*