URBANA, Ill. --- North Carolina senior Gina Suarez-Malaguti advanced to the national quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Kansas State's Petra Niedermayerova Friday morning at the Atkins Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Illinois. Suarez-Malaguti is the first Tar Heel to advance to the final eight of the NCAA Singles Championship since Sanaz Marand in 2009 and just the fourth in school history.
After dropping the opening set in Thursday's round of 16 match, Suarez-Malaguti has lost just four games over the course of four sets against Clemson's Beatrice Gumulya and Niedermayerova. The Pembroke Pines, Fla., All-America performer rolled to a 6-1 first set win Friday before holding to opening the second set. Suarez-Malaguti then broke Niedermayerova and consolidated for a 3-0 lead and never looked back.
Suarez-Malaguti will now face Texas freshman Breaunna Addison in Saturday's quartefinals. Addison defeated Arizona State's Jacqueline Cako, 6-2, 6-4, to advance.
"I just focused on having fun and enjoying this last time I get to wear Carolina gear," Suarez-Malaguti said after the match.
She joins Marand, 2002 quarterfinalist Kate Pinchbeck and 1993 finalist Cinda Gurney in the exclusive club of Tar Heels to reach the final eight of the NCAA Singles Championship.
"I think yesterday Pichi realized that she is capable of winning a national championship and that even though this is an individual tournament, she is still playing for Carolina and for her coaches and teammates," head coach Brian Kalbas said. "She played a very talented opponent today and just put together a complete match."
Sophomore Caroline Price saw her run in the singles tournament come to an end Friday with a 6-1, 6-2 loss to No. 41 Natalie Beazant of Rice. Despite the loss, Price ends her season with a team-best 34 singles wins. The Duluth, Ga., product has earned All-America, All-ACC and ITA National Team Indoor All-Tournament honors in 2013 and figures to be a key piece of the Carolina lineup in 2014.
NCAA Round of 16
#7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti, UNC (7) def #15 Petra Niedermayerova, KSU (9-16), 6-1, 6-1
#41 Natalie Beazant, RICE def. #46 Caroline Price, UNC, 6-1, 6-2