No. 1 UNC tops No. 3 Pack for Heels’ first women’s tennis team national title, Carolina’s 49th team title

By R.L. Bynum

At last, Carolina has broken through to serve the program’s first women’s tennis team national championship.

The No. 1-ranked Tar Heels avenged their only loss on Saturday with a 4–1 victory over No. 3 N.C. State at the USTA national campus in Orlando, Fla., in their sixth Final Four appearance. Singles wins by senior Elizabeth Scotty and sophomore Carson Tanguilig within a minute of each other clinched the title.

It’s Carolina’s 49th NCAA team title in eight sports and the second women’s national championship of the academic year after the field hockey team went 21–0 and won the NCAA title last fall. The two team titles for UNC are in addition to wrestler Austin O’Connor’s NCAA title at 157 pounds and diver Aranza Vazquez’s NCAA titles at one meter and three meters.

Only Stanford and UCLA have more women’s team national titles than UNC’s 36. The other seven Carolina sports with team titles are women’s soccer (21), field hockey (10), men’s basketball (6), men’s lacrosse (5), women’s lacrosse (3), men’s soccer (2) and women’s basketball (1).

“I frickin’ love them,” Tanguilig said of her teammates in a post-match Tennis Channel interview. “They’re the best. I love them so much. It showed, telling us on changeovers to stay connected. After that, everything was going our way, and I think it just shows, and that’s our edge as a close team to finally lift this trophy at the end of the year.”

The championship comes after the Tar Heels (35–1) won their fourth consecutive ITA indoor title last fall. Carolina lost to UCLA 4–3 in its only previous trip to the NCAA championship match in 2014 and lost in the national semifinals in the last three tournaments (2019, 2021 and 2022; UNC was 18–0 when the NCAA canceled the remainder of the 2020 season).

It’s a signature moment in Coach Brian Kalbas’ 20th season as head coach. He had six ITA indoor titles, six ACC titles and six ACC coach-of-the-year honors to his credit but no NCAA title until Saturday. Kalbas is the 13th UNC head coach to win a national title. He joins four other current Carolina head coaches with national titles: Anson Dorrance (women’s soccer), Carlos Somoano (men’s soccer), Jenny Levy (women’s lacrosse) and Joe Breschi (men’s lacrosse).

Jamie Loeb won UNC’s lone individual singles NCAA title in 2015, and Carolina won doubles national titles in 2007 from Sara Anundsen and Jenna Long, and in 2021 from Scotty and Makenna Jones.

The victory for the rival Wolfpack (28–5) over UNC in the ACC championship game was State’s first win over Carolina since 1998. The Tar Heels won a school-record 35 matches, topping the totals in 2016–17 (33–3) and 2018–19 (33–2).

After UNC won the doubles point, N.C. State tied it with No. 7-ranked Diana Shnaider’s 6–3, 6–4 victory over No. 8 freshman Reese Brantmeier at No. 1 singles. UNC junior Fiona Crawley, the No. 1 ranked player in the country, put the Tar Heels up 2–1 with a 6–2, 7–6 (7–2) victory over No. 13 Alana Smith.

Scotty made it 3–1 for UNC with a 7–6 (9–7), 6-3 victory over Abigail Rencheli at No. 4 singles and Tanguilig, ranked No 28, clinched the title with a 6–4, 4–6, 6–3 win over Amelia Rajecki at No. 3 singles.

Tanguilig and Scotty got UNC off to a good start by winning the first completed doubles match 6–1 over Rajecki and Nell Miller of N.C. State at No. 2 doubles. After the Pack’s Smith and Shnaider won No. 1 doubles over Crawley and fifth-year player Abbey Forbes 6–4, it came down to No. 3 doubles. There, the UNC tandem of Brantmeier and junior Reilly Tran beat Sophie Abrams and Rencheli at 6–4 to secure the doubles point.

It’s the 12th time academic year with multiple UNC team national titles. It also happened in 1981–82, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1996–97, 1997–98, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2012–13 and 2015–16.

It was the ACC’s sixth NCAA team title of the academic year and 13th in the last two, the best stretch in league history. No. 5 Virginia could make it seven ACC titles when it faces No. 3 Ohio State in Sunday’s men’s tennis championship match. The league has a chance at titles in men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, baseball and softball.

No. 1 UNC 4, No. 3 N.C. State 1

SINGLES — 1: Diana Shnaider (NCS) d. Reese Brandmeier, 6–3, 5–4; 2: Fiona Crawley (UNC) d. Alana Smith, 6–2, 7–6 (7–2); 3: Carson Tanguilig (UNC) d. Amelia Rajecki, 6–4, 4–6, 6–3; 4: Elizabeth Scotty (UNC) d. Abigail Rencheli, 7–6 (9–7), 6–3. Order of finish: 1, 2, 4 and 3. Unfinished — 5: Reilly Tran (UNC) leading Sophie Adams, 4–6, 7–6 (7–2), 1–1; 6: Gina Gittmann (NCS) leading Anika Yarlagadda, 6–3, 5–7, 3–2.
DOUBLES — 1: Shnaider-Smith (NCS) d. Crawley-Abbey Forbes, 6–4; 2: Scotty-Tanguilig (UNC) d. Nell Miller-Rajeki, 6–1; 3: Brantmeier-Tran (UNC) d. Abrams-Rencheli, 6–4. Order of finish: 2, 1, 3. Carolina wins doubles point.
RECORDS — No. 1 North Carolina 35–1; No. 3 N.C. State 28–5.

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications


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