James-Baker's Resiliency Lifts NC State Over Boston College
April 13, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. - Freshman Rachael James-Baker clinched her sixth match of the year and boosted the NC State women's tennis team to a 5-2 win over Boston College Saturday afternoon at the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Outdoor Tennis Stadium.
"The last two weeks, we asked her to work extra on her fitness, and I think today was a result of that," said head coach Hans Olsen. "In the second and third sets, she had a ton of energy that she was sharing with everybody. A one-step improvement on her fitness made several steps of improvement on the court."
Boston College (8-7, 2-5 ACC) took a quick advantage in doubles play when its duo of Katya Vasilyev and Wan-Yi Sweeting defeated the Wolfpack duo of senior Chloe Smith and sophomore Sophie Nelson, 8-3, in the No. 3 spot.
NC State (12-6, 3-5 ACC) responded in the No. 1 spot where senior Tatiana Illova and junior Joelle Kissell upset the Eagles' 72nd-ranked unit comprised of Jessica Wacnik and Alex Kelleher, 8-1, before the sophomore tandem of Nicole Martinez and Elisha Hande outlasted Olga Khmylev and Heini Salonen, 8-5, at the No. 2 spot to clinch the doubles point and give the Pack a 1-0 lead heading into singles play.
Illova and Kissell improved to 10-5 as a doubles team this season, while Hande and Martinez pushed their record to 11-6 overall and 10-4 in dual matches.
"They've worked really hard on their doubles," Olsen said. "It definitely gives them an edge and toughness. I think that the team really takes pride in their doubles and we made an improvement this week in being more aggressive. I think it's nice to keep improving each week."
Smith extended the Wolfpack lead to 2-0 shortly after singles play got underway, as she eased past Kelly Barry, 6-3, 6-1, in her first appearance at the No. 3 spot this season. With the win, the Naples, Fla., native improved to 13-3 in dual singles matches on the year.
Playing in the No. 2 spot, the 112th-ranked Illova pushed Boston College to the brink after closing out Wacnik, 6-4, 6-3. Illova improved her mark to 12-5 on the year and 4-3 in ACC play.
The Eagles responded at No. 5 singles, where Vasilyev defeated Martinez, 6-2, 7-5, before Sweeting held off a surging Hande, 6-4, 6-4, in the No. 6 spot to cut the Wolfpack advantage to 3-2.
After dropping the first set of No. 4 singles, 6-2, to Salonen, James-Baker stormed back to take the final two sets 6-2 and 6-1, respectively to seal NC State's 12th victory of the season.
"She was relentless any time there was a chance to go forward on the court today," Olsen said. "She did a great job today."
The Plantation, Fla., native picked up her third straight win and improved to 10-7 in dual singles matches this spring.
"I saw a lot of points won when I chose the right shot," James-Baker said. "If I took a lot of risks, I noticed I was on defense more than offense and I'm a very offensive player. I had to choose the balls I was going to come in on and my execution level got a lot better. Strategy and execution really helped me win the match."
Kissell, the nation's 50th-ranked player, dropped a tough first set, 7-6 (4), to Kelleher, but bounced back to win each of the final two sets 6-2 and 6-0, respectively to close the book on the Pack's 5-2 victory over the Eagles. The Hostetter, Pa., native improved to 16-10 overall and 12-4 in dual singles play this season.
The Wolfpack returns to action Saturday, April 14 when it hosts Maryland. First serve is scheduled for noon.