The 25th-ranked and 17th-seeded Hurricanes took a 6-0 record in April and back-to-back upset wins over No. 11 North Carolina and No. 10 Florida State to their first ACC Championship game Sunday afternoon in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Unfortunately, they ran into top-ranked Virginia.
After losing the doubles point for the second time in the tournament, the Canes (16-7) fell to the Cavaliers (28-0) 4-0, who won four of the first six sets in singles play and never looked back.
No. 29 Treat Huey gave Virginia a 2-0 lead in the second position with a straight sets victory over senior Vivek Subramanian, 6-2, 6-1. A short while later, freshman Keith Crowley and sophomore Barnebas Carrega lost in the fifth and sixth positions by scores of 6-3, 6-1 to clinch the win for the Cavaliers.
“We talked about getting to Sunday all week,” head coach Mario Rincon said.
Facing off against rival Florida State (19-5), the Canes pulled off their second straight upset 4-3 on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s matchup. Miami took the doubles point with wins from the top two pairings.
Crowley came back from a match point to win 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2, which put Miami in front 3-2. However, Vallverdu lost to No. 19 Jean-Yves Aubone to set up the crucial tie-breaking match between Subramanian and No. 84 Sam Chang. Despite falling behind 5-2 in the final set, Subramanian started a comeback and gained revenge for a loss to Chang in Miami back in March with a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-5 win.
“It was such a special moment for a special team,” Rincon said. “All the hard work we have put in is paying off at the right time, and for Vivek to be the guy who put us in the championship match, it just makes it even more meaningful.”
Friday’s second round lasted almost five hours, with Miami prevailing in the end over North Carolina 4-3 behind Carrega’s three-set victory 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1 in the sixth position. After taking the doubles point by winning two of three matches, the Canes and Tar Heels won three singles matches apiece. UNC took a 2-1 lead after Crowley and Subramanian lost in straight sets, but Vallverdu easily won in the first position 6-2, 6-2 to tie up the score.
Rincon was pleased with his team’s performance, and the direction of the program, and now waits for his team’s seeding in the NCAA championship. Selections take place April 29 through 30.
“It’s great to see how our program is evolving as one of the nation’s best again. Beating two top-12 teams back to back and reaching the ACC finals for the first time is a huge step for our program,” he said.
Christina De Nicola may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.