CARY, N.C. --- Top-seeded North Carolina fell to fourth-seeded Miami, 4-3, Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Tennis Championship. Miami won the doubles point and the Tar Heels were unable to overcome that deficit, falling to 25-3 on the year. The Hurricanes, who will face the winner of Florida State and Virginia in Sunday's final, improved to 19-5.
Miami took what proved to be the decisive doubles point with a dramatic comeback on court three and a tiebreak win on court two. Carolina's Gina Suarez-Malaguti and Tessa Lyons raced out to a 5-0 lead on court three only to see Miami's Stephanie Wagner and Brittany Dubins take eight of the final nine games for an 8-6 win.
That left the Tar Heels needing the final two courts, both of which would be decided in a tiebreak. No. 61 Caroline Price and Whitney Kay fell behind 5-2 on court one before winning two straight to get back on serve at 5-4. Miami moved back ahead with another break and had three match points in a marathon game up 7-5. But the Tar Heels saved all three match points and eventually forced a tiebreak.
Meanwhile on court two, Zoe De Bruycker and Ashley Dai led most of the way and had a pair of match points up 7-6. But the Hurricane duo of Kelsey Laurente and Melissa Bolivar saved those and held serve for 7-all. Carolina went on to win the tiebreak on court one, leaving the tiebreak on court two to decide the match. That tiebreak was all Miami, as the Hurricanes won seven straight points to win the match and clinch the doubles point.
Needing four singles wins to advance to the final for the fourth consecutive season, Carolina won the opening set on three of six courts. The Tar Heels got their first point of the day on court six, as freshman Kate Vialle dominated Melissa Bolivar, 6-2, 6-2. The teams traded points on the other two lower courts, as Miami's Clementina Riobueno topped Price on court four before UNC's Lauren McHale finished off Monique Albuquerque on court five. The win was the sixth in a row - all in straight sets - for McHale.
From there the match would be decided on the top three courts, and all three matches would need three sets to find a winner.
On court three, Lina Lileikite took the first set from No. 36 Kay, but the freshman standout rallied from down a break to win the second. Kay served the first game of the first set, and Lileikite scored a break after winning a lengthy game. That gave the momentum to the Miami sophomore, who eventually moved ahead two breaks and held on for a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory.
No. 7 Suarez-Malaguti struggled in dropping the opening set to No. 60 Wagner, but the ACC Player of the Year righted the ship in the second set to stay in the match. The Pembroke Pines, Fla., senior got the key break of the third set to go ahead 3-1 and finished it off, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, to tie the dual at 3.
The final match remaining was No. 44 De Bruycker and No. 91 Laurente on court two. De Bruycker won four straight games in the first set to come from 5-3 down to take the opener, 7-5. But Laurente quickly evened the match with a 6-1 win in set two, and the two faced off for a third set to decide the overall winner. Down a break at 4-3 in the third, De Bruycker got the break back to briefly even the set at 4. Laurente responded by breaking at love, however, and served out the final set to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, and put Miami into the final.
Carolina will now await its selection into the NCAA Championship. The selection show for the team event is set for Tuesday, April 30, at 5:30 p.m. and will be available live at NCAA.com.
No. 10 Miami 4, No. 2 North Carolina 3
1. #61 Price/Kay (UNC) def. Riobueno/Albuquerque (UM), 9-8
2. Laurente/Bolivar (UM) def. De Brucyker/Dai (UNC), 9-8
3. Wagner/Dubins (UM) def. Suarez-Malaguti/Lyons (UNC), 8-6
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
1. #7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti (UNC) def. #60 Stephanie Wagner (UM), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
2. #91 Kelsey Laurente (UM) def. #44 Zoe De Bruycker (UNC), 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
3. Lina Lileikite (UM) def. #36 Whitney Kay (UNC), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
4. Clementina Riobueno (UM) def. #56 Caroline Price (UNC), 6-4, 6-4
5. Lauren McHale (UNC) def. Monique Albuquerque (UM), 6-3, 6-4
6. Kate Vialle (UNC) def. Melissa Bolivar (UM), 6-2, 6-2
Order of finish: 6, 4, 5, 3, 1, 2