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Friday’s semifinals brought us some close matches and some not so close matches but there was no bigger story than what happened in the matchup between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 5 Pepperdine.

The undefeated and top ranked Tar Heels entered the match seeking a second-ever trip the finals and since it hadn’t dropped more than two singles matches in any dual all season it had to like its chances. However it’d be the Waves from Pepperdine that would crush UNC’s dream season with a thrilling 4-3 win in a match that took just over 3 hours to complete.

Pepperdine knew going in that it really needed to have the doubles point to put itself in a position to pull off the upset and a few early breaks put the Waves in good position to do so.

Pepperdine’s Anastasia Iamachkine and Jessica Failla jumped out to a 3-1 lead at No. 3 doubles and they’d extend their lead to 5-2. Failla served for the match and had a pair of match points however UNC’s Alle Sanford and Reilly Tran broke on the deciding point and then Sanford held from 40/15 to make it 5-4. With the pressure on Anastasia Iamachkine would calmly serve it out at love to give Pepperdine the 6-4 win.

North Carolina’s Sara Daavettila and Cameron Morra kept the Heels in the doubles point with a come from behind 6-4 win at No. 1. The UNC duo came back from 1-4 down and won the final five games.

The doubles point would be decided at No. 2 between Pepperdine’s Shiori Fakuda and Taisiya Pachkaleva and UNC’s Elizabeth Scotty and Makenna Jones. Scotty and Jones jumped out to an early 3-1 lead and would serve for the match up 5-4. However Fakuda and Pachkaleva would break the Makenna Jones serve from 30/40 to even it at 5-5. Pachkaleva fought off two break points to hold for 6-5 and then she and Fakuda would break Scotty’s serve on the deciding point, after Scotty had led 40/30, the win the match 7-5.

Despite dropping the doubles point for the only the fourth time all season UNC still had to like its chances in singles. In the previous two rounds, UNC had pulled a player (Jones vs. Cal; Scotty vs. Scotty vs. Duke) which allowed the undefeated Reilly Tran (16-0 and only dropped two sets) to play at 6 however there would be no changes this time with Scotty playing at 4 and Jones at 5.

The teams would split opening sets in singles and surprisingly all six matches would finish in straight sets.

UNC’s Alexa Graham gave the Tar Heels its first point with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Jessica Failla at No. 2 but a short while later Pepperdine would retake the lead after a 6-2, 6-3 win by Shiori Fakuda over Elizabeth Scotty at No. 4. Fakuda trailed 0-3 in the second set before winning six straight.

UNC tied it back up with a 6-3, 6-1 win by the undefeated Fiona Crawley over Nikki Redelijk at No. 6 and then Sara Daavettila gave the Heels its first lead with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Ashley Lahey at No. 1.

Pepperdine would only trail for about 10 minutes because Lisa Zaar would level the match with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Makenna Jones at No. 5. Zaar jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second set before Jones erased one of the breaks to pull within 4-3. Zaar fought off a pair of break points to hold on the deciding point for 5-3 and then she broke Jones at love to win it.

The final match left on court at No. 3 had tightened up significantly over the previous 10 minutes because Taisiya Pachkaleva had seen her 7-6, 5-0 lead shrink to 7-6, 5-3. Pachkaleva served for the match at 5-0, and had a match point on the deciding point, however Morra broke for 5-1. Morra held from 40/30 and then broke 30/40 to make it 5-3. Morra fought off a match point at 15/40 however Pachkaleva closed it out on the next point to clinch Pepperdine’s first-ever berth in the NCAA Championship match.

#5 Pepperdine 4, #1 North Carolina 3
5/21/2021 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
Singles competition
1. #2 Sara Daavettila (NC) def. #77 Lahey, Ashley (PEPPW) 6-4, 6-4
2. #41 Alexa Graham (NC) def. #21 Failla, Jessica (PEPPW) 6-2, 6-3
3. #89 Pachkaleva, Taisiya (PEPPW) def. #27 Cameron Morra (NC) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
4. #118 Fakuda, Shiori (PEPPW) def. #97 Elizabeth Scotty (NC) 6-2, 6-3
5. Zaar, Lisa (PEPPW) def. #32 Makenna Jones (NC) 6-4, 6-3
6. #36 Fiona Crawley (NC) def. Redelijk, Nikki (PEPPW) 6-3, 6-1
Doubles competition
1. #2 Sara Daavettila/Cameron Morra (NC) def. Zaar, Lisa/Lahey, Ashley (PEPPW) 6-4
2. Fakuda, Shiori/Pachkaleva, Taisiya (PEPPW) def. #4 Elizabeth Scotty/Makenna Jones (NC) 7-5
3. Iamachkine,Anastasia/Failla, Jessica (PEPPW) def. #34 Alle Sanford/Reilly Tran (NC) 6-4
Match Notes:
PEPP 25-3; National ranking #5
North Carolina 30-1; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (2,4,6,1,5,3)
2021 Division I NCAA Tournament – Semifinal
UNC – #1 National Seed, Pepperdine – #5 National Seed

Pepperdine’s opponent in Saturday’s evening’s final will be the No. 2 seed Texas after the Longhorns needed just 2 hours and 12 minutes to post a 4-0 shutout against No. 6 NC State.

Texas won the doubles point for the 28th time in 31 matches with a pair 6-4 wins at No. 1 and No. 3.

In singles, NC State was able to take early break leads on a few courts however Texas would end up taking all six first sets.

Peyton Stearns was the first off the court with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Anna Rogers at No. 1. Three of the eight games in the second set went to a deciding point with Stearns winning all three of them.

Charlotte Chavatipon made it 3-0 after winning her 17th straight match with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Jaeda Daniel at No. 4. Daniel won the first two games of the match however Chavatipon won the next five before serving it out at love to take the set. Chavatipon opened up a 5-0 lead in the second set and despite giving one of the breaks back would serve it out from 40/30 to win it.

Malaika Rapolu provider the semifinal winning clincher at No. 6 with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Lexi Keberle. Rapolu fell behind 3-1 in the first set but then won 11 of the next 12 games to close out her 17th consecutive win.

Texas will be appearance in the final for the fifth time in school history with the Longhorns winning the title in 1993 and 1995 while finishing as runner-up in 1992 and 2005.

#2 Texas 4, #6 NC State 0
5/21/2021 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
Singles competition
1. #37 Peyton Stearns (UT) def. #6 Anna Rogers (ST) 6-1, 6-2
2. #35 Anna Turati (UT) vs. #23 Alana Smith (ST) 6-2, 4-3, unfinished
3. #62 Lulu Sun (UT) vs. Adriana Reami (ST) 6-3, 4-5, unfinished
4. #76 Charlotte Chavatipon (UT) def. Jaeda Daniel (ST) 6-3, 6-2
5. #72 Kylie Collins (UT) vs. #82 Abigail Rencheli (ST) 6-3, 5-5, unfinished
6. Malaika Rapolu (UT) def. Lexi Keberle (ST) 6-3, 6-1
Doubles competition
1. #19 Kylie Collins/Lulu Sun (UT) def. #12 Anna Rogers/Alana Smith (ST) 6-4
2. Fernanda Labrana/Anna Turati (UT) vs. #5 Jaeda Daniel/Adriana Reami (ST) 4-5, unfinished
3. #47 Charlotte Chavatipon/Peyton Stearns (UT) def. #42 Amelia Rajecki/Abigail Rencheli (ST) 6-4
Match Notes:
NC State Wolfpack 20-6; National ranking #6
Texas 30-1; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (1,4,6)

In the opening men’s semifinal of the day, the top ranked and second seeded Baylor Bears came back from losing the doubles point to defeat No. 3 Tennessee 4-2.

BU struck first in doubles with Finn Bass and Charlie Broom winning 6-3 at No. 3. Bass and Broom jumped out to a 3-1 lead and eventually closed out the match by breaking Mark Wallner’s serve from 30/40 to win it.

Tennessee’s Adam Walton and Pat Harper went up an early break at No. 1 doubles but Baylor’s Sven Lah and Constantin Frantzen broke back and held for 3-2. It stayed on serve until Walton and Harper broke Lah’s 5-5 service game from 15/40 and then Harper fought off a pair of break points to close it out 7-5.

The match at No. 2 would finish seconds later with Martim Prata and Johannus Monday coming back from 4-2 down to defeat Matias Soto and Nick Stachowiak 6-4. The final two games of the match both came down to the deciding point with Prata and Monday taking them both.

Each team took three opening sets in singles and Baylor’s Sven Lah and Spencer Furman would win in straight sets at 3 and 6 while Tennessee’s Giles Hussey won in straight sets at 5.

Nick Stachowiak put Baylor in front for the first time at 3-2 after a come from behind 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Luca Wiedenmann at No. 4. Stachowiak had a 4-0 lead in the third set but Wiedenmann won the next 3 and then had a break point to even it at 4-4 but Stachowiak managed to hold after putting away a volley at the net after a 10+ shot rally. Wiedenmann held for 4-5 and then he had two break points to put it back on serve. Wiedenmann thought he had the break but his forehand just missed wide and the chair confirmed Stachowiak’s out call. Stachowiak closed it out on the deciding point with a forehand winner to put the Bears within a point of the finals.

Both of the remaining matches ended up going to a third set after Adrian Boitan earned a split on 1 while Johannus Monday got a split on 2.

In the third set at No. 2, Baylor’s Matias Soto broke from 30/40 to go ahead 4-2 but Monday broke back from 30/40 to make it 4-3. Monday came back from 0/40 down to hold for 4-4 with Soto calling Monday’s ace on the deciding point out but being overruled by the chair. Since it was Soto’s third overrule he started off his next service game down 0/15 but still managed to hold from 40/30 for 5-4. Monday fought off a pair of match points to hold for 5-5 and then Soto held from 40/30 for 6-5.

Meanwhile over at No. 1, Baylor’s Adrian Boitan had opened up a 5-2 lead in the final set but Adam Walton held for 3-5 and then went up 30/40 on Boitan’s serve. Boitan won the next point to bring up the deciding point but Walton broke after Boitan missed a forehand wide. Walton went up 40/15 on his 4-5 service game but Boitan took the next two to bring up the deciding point which was also a match point. On the deciding point, Walton hit a drop shot which Boitan got to in plenty of time but he overcooked his forehand and the ball sailed wide giving Walton the hold for 5-5.

Tennessee was hanging on by a razor’s edge but danger was coming again back at No. 2 singles. Monday missed a forehand wide to go down 30/40 on his 5-6 service game and on the next point Soto would hit a forehand winner to send the Bears back to the final for the first time since 2005.

[2] #1 Baylor 4, #3 Tennessee 2
5/21/2021 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
Singles competition
1. #21 Adrian Boitan (BU) vs. #10 Adam Walton (TENN) 3-6, 7-5,* 5-5 (40/15), unfinished
2. #11 Matias Soto (BU) def. #8 Johannus Monday (TENN) 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 7-5
3. Sven Lah (BU) def. #41 Martim Prata (TENN) 6-0, 6-3
4. Nick Stachowiak (BU) def. Luca Wiedenmann (TENN) 1-6, 6-2, 6-4
5. #92 Giles Hussey (TENN) def. Charlie Broom (BU) 6-4, 6-2
6. Spencer Furman (BU) def. Andrew Rogers (TENN) 6-3, 6-2
Doubles competition
1. #4 Pat Harper/Adam Walton (TENN) def. #9 Sven Lah/Constantin Frantzen (BU) 7-5
2. Martim Prata/Johannus Monday (TENN) def. #75 Matias Soto/Nick Stachowiak (BU) 6-4
3. Finn Bass/Charlie Broom (BU) def. Giles Hussey/Mark Wallner (TENN) 6-3
Match Notes:
Tennessee 28-4; National ranking #3
Baylor 34-4; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (5,3,6,4,2)
2021 Division I NCAA Tournament – Semifinal

In the final match of the day, which was a rematch from the 2019 NCAA Semifinals, the top seed Florida rolled to a 4-0 shutout over No. 4 Texas.

The Gators took the doubles point with wins at 2 and 3 and then they added four opening sets in singles.

Ben Shelton was the first off the court with a 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 5 and Blaise Bicknell followed with a 6-1, 7-5 win at No. 4. Bicknell served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but Cleeve Harper fought off two match points to break for 5-5. Harper went up 40/15 on his next service game but BIcknell came back to break for 6-5. Bicknell served it out from 40/30 in his next service game to win it.

About 15 minutes later Andy Andrade would put the Gators through to the finals for the first-time in school history with a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 3. Andrade went down a break in the second set on two difference occasions but both times he immediately broke Siem Woldeab back. Andrade had three match points when Woldeab served at 4-5 (15/40) but Woldeab came back to hold for 5-5. Andrade held at love for 6-5 and then broke from 15/40 to clinch it.

[1] #2 Florida 4, #4 Texas 0
5/21/2021 at Orlando, Fla. (USTA National Campus)
Singles competition
1. #4 Duarte Vale (UF) vs. #23 Eliot Spizzirri (UT) 6-4, *5-6 (15/30), unfinished
2. #38 Micah Braswell (UT) vs. #6 Sam Riffice (UF) 7-6(3), 3-2* (30/15), unfinished
3. #18 Andy Andrade (UF) def. #75 Siem Woldeab (UT) 6-3, 7-5
4. #51 Blaise Bicknell (UF) def. #108 Cleeve Harper (UT) 6-1, 7-5
5. Ben Shelton (UF) def. Chih Chi Huang (UT) 6-3, 6-0
6. Evin McDonald (UT) vs. #79 Josh Goodger (UF) 6-2, 4-6, 4-3*, unfinished
Doubles competition
1. #16 Duarte Vale/Johannes Ingildsen (UF) vs. #11 Siem Woldeab/Eliot Spizzirri (UT) 5-5* (15/0), unfinished
2. Sam Riffice/Ben Shelton (UF) def. #78 Cleeve Harper/Chih Chi Huang (UT) 6-4
3. Brian Berdusco/Will Grant (UF) def. Micah Braswell/Payton Holden (UT) 6-2
Match Notes:
Texas 24-6; National ranking #4
Florida Gators 25-2; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (5,4,3)
2021 Division I NCAA Tournament – Semifinals Florida – #1 National Seed, Texas – #4 National Seed

The women’s championship match will start at 5:30 pm ET with the men’s match starting 30 minutes after the conclusion of that one.