Lady Braves Knock Off No. 11 Clayton State
PEMBROKE – The UNCP tennis team got big three-set singles victories from both Leigh-Anne McAfee and Madeline DiNunzio en route to its first win over Clayton State in six years as the Lady Braves upended the 11th-ranked Lakers, 5-4, on Sunday afternoon in Pembroke.
The victory snapped a six-match series losing streak for UNCP (12-12, 3-9 PBC) who last tasted a victory over Clayton State (7-12, 6-6) on March 26, 2006, in Pembroke. The result gave the Black & Gold a school record mark for PBC victories, while also giving UNCP consecutive league victories for the first time in program annals as well.
Having been forced to concede matches at No. 3 doubles and No. 6 singles due to injury, Clayton State split the two remaining matches in doubles competition to allow the Lady Braves to carry a 2-1 advantage into singles play. UNCP's duo of Mia Winterbottom and Hannah Herlocker booked an 8-3 win over Martina Dedaj and Jessica Budd on court No. 1, while the visitors responded with an 8-3 victory by Charlotte Fabricius and Marie Cercelletti at No. 2 doubles over McAfee and Shelby Bickel.
The Lady Braves used the forfeit at No. 6 singles to pad their lead on the team scoreboard out to 3-1, but Clayton State registered wins in two singles matches to knot the score back up. Budd took out Bickel by 6-3, 6-3 scores on court No. 4, while Cercelletti rebounded from a loss in the first set to top Winterbottom on court No. 1, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
McAfee rebounded from loss in her opening set at No. 2 singles with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0, victory over Dedaj that helped the hosts reclaim the lead, but Clayton State answered back again, this time with Febricius's straight-sets win (6-4, 7-5) over Herlocker on court No. 3.
The outcome of the match was left squarely on the shoulders of DiNunzio who dropped her opening set at No. 5 singles to Alyze' Pagal by a 6-3 score. DiNunzio, like McAfee, would rebound by winning the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (10-8), and then clinched the team victory with a 6-4 win in the third set.