Each team took three opening sets in singles but only two would finish in straight sets with North Carolina sophomore Jessie Aney winning 6-1, 6-3 at No. 3 and Ohio State senior Miho Kowase winning 6-2, 7-5 at No. 5.
Ohio State senior Sandy Niehaus tied the match at 2-2 with a three set win over Alexa Graham at No. 4. Niehaus broke Graham at love to go ahead 4-2 in the third set and she'd hold two more times to close out the 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 win.
North Carolina freshman Sara Daavettila put the Tar Heels back in front 3-2 with a three set win over Anna Sanford at No. 2. Daavettila served for the first set up 5-4 (40/30) but Sanford broke on the no-ad point, held, and then broke from 15/40 to take the opening set 7-5. Daavettila took the second set 6-4 and then she went up 2-0 in the third. Sanford came back and took the next three to put the match back on serve at 3-2 but Daavettila would take the final four games to close it out 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. There were 18 breaks of serve in the match with Daavettila breaking 10 times and Sanford breaking eight times.
Ohio State senior Ferny Angeles Paz tied the match at 3-3 with a come from behind three set win at No. 6. North Carolina sophomore Chloe Ouellet-Pizer took the first set 6-4 with Paz taking the second 6-1. Ouellet-Pizer jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the third set but Paz held and broke to even it at 3-3. Ouellet-Pizer broke back to go in front 4-3 but Paz broke on the no-ad point to even it at 4-4. Paz held for 5-4 and then she broke Ouellet-Pizer on the no-ad point to win it 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
The match would be decided in a third set at No. 1 between North Carolina senior Hayley Carter and Ohio State sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo. Carter had come up short in her last three matches against Di Lorenzo and after falling behind 2-0 in the third set she might not have liked her odds. However Carter would immediately break back and then hold to knot it at 2-2. After an exchange of holds, Carter broke from 15/40 and then she held from 40/30 to go up 5-3. Di Lorenzo held from 40/15 to pull within 4-5 but then Carter would quickly go up 40/0. Carter thought she had the match won on the 40/15 point when she called a shot out but Di Lorenzo appealed the call and the chair agreed so the match continued on. Di Lorenzo managed to get it back to the no-ad point but Carter finished it with an overhead at the net to take it 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
North Carolina will be playing in the finals for the third year in a row and for the fourth time in the last five years - they won it all in 2013 and 2015
#2 North Carolina 4, #7 Ohio State 3
Feb 12, 2017 at New Haven, Conn. (Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center)
1. #5 Hayley Carter (UNC) def. #1 Francesca Di Lorenzo (OSU) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
2. #2 Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. #55 Anna Sanford (OSU) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
3. #17 Jessie Aney (UNC) def. #68 Gabriella De Santis (OSU) 6-1, 6-3
4. Sandy Niehaus (OSU) def. #48 Alexa Graham (UNC) 7-5, 2-6, 6-3
5. #84 Miho Kowase (OSU) def. #60 Makenna Jones (UNC) 6-2, 7-5
6. Ferny Angeles Paz (OSU) def. Chloe Ouellet-Pizer (UNC) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
1. Hayley Carter/Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. Anna Sanford/Sandy Niehaus (OSU) 6-2
2. Francesca Di Lorenzo/Miho Kowase (OSU) def. #42 Jessie Aney/Cassandra Vazquez (UNC) 6-4
3. Alexa Graham/Chloe Ouellet-Pizer (UNC) def. Ferny Angeles Paz/Olivia Sneed (OSU) 7-6 (7-5)
Ohio State 7-1; National ranking #7
North Carolina 8-0; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,5,4,2,6,1)
ITA National Team Indoor Championship semifinal
Ohio State No. 6 seed
North Carolina No. 2 seed
Post-Match Quotes from Ohio State's recap
"North Carolina played a great match," Melissa Schaub, Ohio State head coach, said. "We fought hard and gave ourselves chances but just came up short in the end. We will use this to learn from and get better. There is a lot of season ahead of us."
The second semifinal of the day between SEC rivals Florida and Georgia wasn't as close as the first match but it wasn't as big a rout as the 4-0 final score would indicate. Florida took the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 2 and then the Gators took four opening sets in singles after Ingrid Neel fought off five set points to take her set 7-6(6).
Florida senior Kourtney Keegan put the Gators second point on the board with a straight set at No. 6 and then junior Brooke Austin won in straight sets at No. 5 to extend the lead to 3-0. While both No. 3 and No. 4 singles were into third sets, Florida senior Belinda Woolcock would clinch the victory with a 6-3, 7-6(6) win over Ellen Perez at No. 1.
This will be Florida's 12th appearance in the finals with the Gators seeking title No. 7 - their last title came all the back in 1999.
#1 Florida 4, #6 Georgia 0
Feb 12, 2017 at New Haven, Conn. (Cullman-Heyman Center)
1. #40 Belinda Woolcock (UF) def. Ellen Perez (UGA) 6-3, 7-6 (8-6)
2. #45 Ingrid Neel (UF) vs. #18 Elena Christofi (UGA) 7-6 (8-6), 3-2, unfinished
3. #23 Anna Danilina (UF) vs. #39 Kennedy Shaffer (UGA) 1-6, 6-4, 3-3, unfinished
4. #19 Josie Kuhlman (UF) vs. #34 Caroline Brinson (UGA) 4-6, 6-4, 1-0, unfinished
5. Brooke Austin (UF) def. #76 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) 6-3, 6-3
6. #30 Kourtney Keegan (UF) def. Mariana Gould (UGA) 6-0, 6-4
1. #18 Brooke Austin/Kourtney Keegan (UF) def. Ellen Perez/Elena Christofi (UGA) 6-3
2. #22 Anna Danilina/Ingrid Neel (UF) def. Caroline Brinson/Kennedy Shaffer (UGA) 6-2
3. #17 Belinda Woolcock/Josie Kuhlman (UF) vs. Mariana Gould/Marta Gonzalez (UGA) 4-5, unfinished
Georgia 5-1; National ranking #6
Florida 6-0; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (6,5,1)
ITA National Team Indoors: Semifinals
Post-Match Quotes from Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist:
"We played really well today. I've been happy to see that we've been playing better every day here. We're a little more comfortable in a competitive environment and a little more comfortable playing indoors. Today, was by far the best we've played since we arrived."
"We handled the pace of play better. There were so many positives from today. Doubles, we played aggressively again. Brooke (Austin) and Kourtney (Keegan) were off the court quick in singles and that really helped. On courts three and four, we lost the first set on both and I told Anna (Danilina) and Josie (Kuhlman) after the match that one of the reasons that we were able to win in straight sets on court one was that they were able to turn their matches into a third set and that took a lot of pressure off of Belinda (Woolcock)."
"North Carolina is used to being here in the final. They've won it before so we're going to have our hands full tomorrow. It's important for us to play at the same high level that we did today in order for us to have a chance."
Post-Match Quote from Georgia's recap
“It was another hard-fought doubles point, and we knew we had to come out aggressive in singles again,” said Georgia coach Jeff Wallace. “We had our opportunities but only won two first sets and lost another in a tiebreaker. We missed some chances to gain some momentum in the second set of several matches. Overall at this tournament, we got a couple wins over top 10 ranked teams including the No. 3 team, and now we’ll get back home and work on getting better and preparing for the outdoor season.”