Achong and Richardson stun second-ranked North Carolina, advance to Elite Eight

Fifth-year senior Eden Richardson and fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong celebrate after a point during their match against Old Dominion on February 5.
Fifth-year senior Eden Richardson and fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong celebrate after a point during their match against Old Dominion on February 5. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

It was a historic Wednesday night for fifth-year senior Eden Richardson and fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Urbana, Ill.

Miami’s duo, ranked No. 13 nationally, downed North Carolina’s No. 2-ranked Fiona Crawley and Elizabeth Scotty, 6-4, 6-1, in the second round of the NCAA Doubles Championship to become the first pair of Canes to earn All-American honors since 2016 and the first to advance to the Elite Eight since 2014. They also became the first Miami duo to beat a top-four opponent in the NCAAs since 1986.

“They just really stuck together,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I think that Daev’s moves at the net have just been phenomenal, yesterday and today. I think that, as the match progressed, Eden’s play just kept getting better. She started returning aggressively. Honestly, [both of them were] just committed. [They were] committed to their plays and to their strategy from the beginning.”

It was a matchup of former NCAA doubles champions, as Richardson won with LSU in 2018 and Crawley won in 2021. Both tandems had met before in the regular season, with UNC besting the Canes, 6-3.

But Richardson and Achong made sure that wouldn’t happen again, setting the tone early in the first set by breaking the Tar Heels’ serve at deuce in the first game. Three consecutive breaks followed, before UNC held serve and pulled in front 3-2. The Hurricanes then won three games in a row to establish a commanding 5-3 lead, but UNC bounced back, taking the next game and leading 40-30 in the tenth. The momentum shifted yet again, though, as Richardson and Achong secured the next two points to take the first set, 6-4.

In the second, UNC took game one – but wouldn’t take another. Miami won the next two games at deuce to go up 2-1. In the fifth game, the Canes stormed back from a 40-15 deficit to break the Tar Heels’ serve and extend their lead to 4-1. From there, it was smooth sailing, as UM comfortably took the next two to win the set, 6-1.

With the victory, Achong earns her first ITA All-American distinction, while Richardson earns her third – she previously received the honor in 2018 in doubles and 2019 in singles. The pair became the 30th and 31st ITA All-Americans in program history.

“Listen, I know it’s big for both of them. I think that was one thing that Eden was, obviously, very focused on doing this season,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “So, for her to meet that goal is huge. Daev, first time being an All-American, she’s proven she can play with the best in college tennis. I hope that this just reinforces that for her.”

The Hurricanes return to action on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET, when Richardson and Achong will face No. 11 Peyton Stearns and Allura Zamarripa of Texas, the reigning back-to-back NCAA Team Championship winner, with a spot in the Final Four on the line.