CHAPEL HILL --- No. 1 North Carolina had its eight-match winning streak snapped Saturday as the Tar Heels fell to No. 27 Virginia, 4-3, at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. Whitney Kay, Gina Suarez-Malaguti and Caroline Price were singles winners for the Tar Heels, who were unable to dig out of an early hole and fell to 17-2 on the year and 3-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference action.
Virginia (9-7, 4-1 ACC) took the day's first point thanks to wins on courts one and two. After Zoe De Bruycker and Ashley Dai won 8-6 on court three, the two remaining matches were both still up for grabs.
Stephanie Nauta and Erin Vierra took care of Price and Kay on court one to set up a winner-take-all finish on court two. With the match tied at 6, Virginia's Julia Elbaba and Hana Tomljanovic held serve in a marathon game to make it 7-6. The Cavaliers then broke the serve of Suarez-Malaguti to secure the 8-6 victory and the doubles point for UVa.
UNC was strong early in singles, winning the first set on four of six courts to put the Tar Heels in position to score the comeback victory.
Kay was first to finish on court three, dumping Li Xi in impressive fashion, 6-1, 6-1, with a thumping ace down the middle on match point. From there it appeared Carolina would quickly take its first lead of the day as Price held a commanding lead over Tomljanovic on court four.
But Tomljanovic battled long enough to force a second-set tiebreak, and in the meantime Virginia was able to regain the lead through Caryssa Peretz on court six. The Cavaliers made it 3-1 after No. 15 Elbaba bested No. 43 De Bruycker in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.
No. 9 Suarez-Malaguti pulled Carolina within one with her 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 65 Nauta on court one, meaning the Tar Heels needed wins on four and five to complete the comeback.
Price, who fell behind 5-2 in the tiebreak and faced a pair of match points, upped her intensity late in the breaker to come up with a 6-0, 7-6 (8) win to make it 3-3 and focus all attention on Kate Vialle and Vierra on court five.
Vialle took the first set with relative ease, 6-3, before the Virginia senior Vierra responded with a 6-3 win of her own. Vierra ran out to a two-break lead at 4-0 in the third before Vialle quickly got one of the breaks back to make it 4-1. But Vierra was able to restore her two-break advantage in the next game and served out the match for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win that clinched the dual for the Wahoos.
Carolina will continue its four-match homestand next Friday, April 5, at 2:30 p.m. against Georgia Tech.
No. 27 Virginia 4, No. 1 North Carolina 3
1. Stephanie Nauta/Erin Vierra (UVA) def. #42 Caroline Price/Whitney Kay (NC), 8-6
2. Julia Elbaba/Hana Tomljanovic (UVA) def. Gina Suarez-Malaguti/Tessa Lyons (NC), 8-6
3. Zoe De Bruycker/Ashley Dai (NC) def. Li Xi/Maria Fuccillo (UVA), 8-5
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
1. #9 Gina Suarez-Malaguti (NC) def. #65 Stephanie Nauta (UVA), 6-2, 6-2
2. #15 Julia Elbaba (UVA) def. #43 Zoe De Bruycker (NC), 6-3, 6-1
3. #25 Whitney Kay (NC) def. Li Xi (UVA), 6-1, 6-1
4. #33 Caroline Price (NC) def. Hana Tomljanovic (UVA), 6-0, 7-6 (10-8)
5. Erin Vierra (UVA) def. Kate Vialle (NC), 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
6. Caryssa Peretz (UVA) def. Ashley Dai (NC), 6-1, 6-3
Order of finish: 3, 6, 2, 1, 4, 5