UNC v Duke. ‘Nuff said. UNC beat the Blue Devils way back in February in the semifinals of the indoors (box recap) on its way to winning the event. Duke has definitely performed at a much higher level since then and that past match featured three three-setters which saw both Chen and Harris fail to win a match which is hard to imagine happening twice this season.
A couple of lower to mid-level conference teams who have had up and down seasons have chances to add a quality win to their resumes this weekend. Louisville started out hot and then cooled considerably but plays host to the Florida contingent this weekend and even getting one of these would really help their resume. The Irish face the same teams and one win would be equally big for them. Clemson has two tough road games, at Virginia and at Georgia Tech and if they could snag an upset Friday against the Cavs I am sure they would be thrilled. The Hokies and Panthers both have fairly impossible tasks this weekend, and barring some rest by some key players, they'll most have a winless weekend. Syracuse vs NC State and Wake Forest at Virginia are also very good matches, as is Wake at BC, but still, it is the final weekend and UNC and Duke are meeting for a rematch. In the words of Kid Danger, “feels good!”
This weekend had all the feel of the calm before the storm, with next weekend being the final matches before tourney time. Pretty much every team did exactly as expected this weekend. NC State continues to have a strong April, although they faltered on Sunday to a Virginia team that needed to prove it could win some tough conference matches, especially on the road. The Cavs split the weekend in Carolina, dropping their match against UNC on Friday.
The heavyweights took care of business with Duke beating an up and coming Syracuse team. Wake did enough to remain in the mix taking care of Louisville on Sunday, but its loss on Friday to NC State felt like a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions. Georgia Tech, Miami, and Florida State all had relatively easy weekends without being tested. Louisville, Notre Dame, Va Tech, and Pittsburgh were unable to play the role of spoiler.
Boston College has had a fairly positive spring and was able to get its first-ever win against Notre Dame on Friday.
This will be a BIG weekend for the 38th ranked NC State Wolfpack as they play four matches, two of them against very good conference opponents. They host Wake Forest and NC Central on Friday and Virginia and Winthrop on Sunday.
Syracuse is hoping to bounce back from a rough weekend, losing to Florida State and Miami, but it’s a tall order against the Duke Blue Devils. Gabriela Knutson continues to have a fantastic spring for the Orange as she became the first Syracuse player to crack the top 5 in ITA singles rankings.
I know Pitt would love to play spoiler and get that first conference win, unfortunately it is not looking good for them this weekend as they play host to two of the best in the conference, the Ga Tech Yellow Jackets and the Duke Blue Devils.
Miami is up to 16 in the latest polls and Estella Perez-Somarriba continues her phenomenal play, earning player of the week for the fourth time this season. They have a relatively easy week, playing host to the Hokies of Va Tech.
The Virginia Cavaliers have arguable the biggest weekend ahead, as they hit the road for two huge matchups. First, they go to Chapel Hill for a match against the Tar Heels before heading over to Raleigh for a match against the very in form Wolfpack of NC State. I am sure they would be happy to go 1-1, but it is very important to salvage at least one of these 2 matches.
It is also an important weekend for Wake to turn things around after losing back-to-back matches against William and Mary and Georgia Tech. They travel to NC State Friday before hosting Louisville on Sunday. If they could manage to win both of these it would be huge, but it is imperative that they at least win at home on Sunday.
The little bit of separation that was starting to show between the top two teams in the conference, and everyone else, was slammed shut with Georgia Tech stunning the Duke Blue Devils. Florida State notched two impressive wins against two teams that were coming in on a roll (Syracuse and Boston College).
With three to four matches remaining in conference play it's time to separate the wheat from the chaff and get down to it. We will see who belongs in that top tier with UNC and Duke. Clearly, Georgia Tech is right there with them this year and it will be fun to see what they can do in the postseason. Florida State is an intriguing squad that can play with anyone when they are at their best, as can Miami. Virginia does not appear to be quite up to that level this year, but with a matchup looming against #1 UNC next weekend, they can certainly change that perception. North Carolina State is playing very well at the moment. This past weekend they handled Louisville with extreme ease and seem to be moving up in the conference, as is Miami. Wake Forest is still an extremely good team capable of putting a run together. That leaves Virginia Tech, Louisville, Notre Dame, Boston College, and Pitt to play the role of spoiler.
With four to go, anything can still happen and judging from the way conference play has gone so far, it very well might!
Duke is sitting pretty atop the conference standings and has a new #2 ranking nationally this week. They have their work cut out for them this weekend though, traveling to Atlanta for a huge match against Ga Tech before returning home to face the feisty Clemson Tigers. Their main competition, the North Carolina Tar Heels have a bit of an easier weekend, squaring off against the Irish of Notre Dame and the Louisville Cardinals. However, nothing is ever easy in the conference, gotta lace em up every time you hit the courts.
Syracuse is arguably the hottest team not named Duke and have a huge trip through the Sunshine State this weekend, facing Miami and Florida State.
We started to see some separation this past week from the top of the conference to the rest. UNC and Duke are pulling away from the rest with Ga Tech, Wake, and UVa all taking losses over the weekend. The tobacco road neighbors are clearly the cream of the crop in the ACC this season, and personally I would give the nod to Duke. They may have lost head to head, and UNC may retain the top spot nationally, but Duke has been absolutely dominant since that loss. A special nod to the Orange this week for coming up with the biggest win in the history of their program, knocking off #3 Georgia Tech.
We start the weekend off on Thursday with a bang with two huge match-ups; North Carolina at Wake Forest and Florida State at Duke. North Carolina lost to a hot Georgia Tech last weekend but held on to the No. 1 ranking but will be severely tested in Winston Salem against a very strong Wake Forest squad. Florida State knocked off No. 14 Wake Forest last weekend and this weekend faces No. 4 Duke and No. 18 Virginia.
NC State checked in at No. 42 in this week’s rankings and hits the road to take on Clemson on Friday and then Va. Tech in Blacksburg on Saturday.
BC has had a good couple of weeks and is rewarded by entering the ITA rankings at No. 50 which is no small feat after being winless in conference a scant two weeks ago. They travel to Blacksburg, as well, for a match on Friday, and then wind up the weekend on Sunday in Pittsburgh for a date with the Pitt Panthers.
Wow! What a weekend, what a conference! An ACC team occupied the top spot in the nation for both the men and the women, and on the same weekend, both those teams fall to conference foes.
For the women, it was the top ranked UNC Tarheels hosting the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and getting stung. This felt a little bit like trouble going into the weekend as Ga Tech had been playing extremely well and UNC had been squeaking by with a lot of 4-3 wins lately. That will catch up to you sooner or later in such a competitive conference, and it did on Saturday in Chapel Hill when the 6th ranked Ga Tech squad beat UNC 4-3 (recap and scores can be found here). Perhaps this served as a wake up call for the ‘heels as they returned to action on Sunday and delivered their first shutout of conference play, beating the Virginia Tech Hokies 7-0. A recap and scores can be found here).
Busy weekend in ACC women’s tennis, so let’s dive right in and highlight a few to watch:
After losing its last two conference matches, against tough competition in Georgia Tech and Virginia, the Louisville Cardinals bounced back with a good win against the Hokies of Va Tech. This weekend they hit the road for two big matches that are nearly must wins for them to stay in the top half of the conference. Friday, they take on the Boston College Eagles, whom they handled fairly routinely last season. BC is coming off of a victory, its sole conference win, against Clemson.