No. 31 Final National Ranking Caps Successful Season for Wolfpack Women's Tennis
June 9, 2006
RALEIGH, N.C. -
Wolfpack Women's Tennis Notes / Updated Statistics
By Carolyn Steele
Head coach Hans Olsen created a chemistry among his players that lead to arguably the best season that the Wolfpack women's tennis team has ever had. The Pack recorded its first ever win over a top 25 opponent, and its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where they landed their very first tournament triumph. The effort put forth by the team during the season lead to 17 victories, breaking the school's previous win record of 16. Last season, NC State only had nine ACC singles wins, but drastically improved that number this season to 30. The Wolfpack capped the year off with a No. 31 final national ranking in the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
The fighting power and determination the team possessed helped nine of the player's end the season with winning records. This year's seniors provided guidance to the younger players while having successful stints of their own. After starting the season ranked No. 90 nationally in singles and defeating a ranked player, the ITA chose senior Barbara Orlay as the 2006 Top Senior Player in the Southeast Region. Orlay spent most of the season in the No. 1 spot, recording nine wins in the position. Senior Nandita Chandrasekar spent her junior season on the sidelines due to injury, but she came back determined to have a good final campaign. Doubling up with sophomore Elin Stahl Johansson, the duo recorded the most doubles wins for the team this season. Chandrasekar also clinched the Pack's win over William & Mary in the NCAA Tournament by collecting the decisive team match point.
The Pack's newest members made a significant contribution to the team's overall staying power. Freshman Shona Lee, ranked No. 114 nationally in singles at the end of the year, had an impressive 13-9 record, spending most of the season in the No. 2 spot. Lee was also named to the 2006 All-ACC squad after defeating three ranked opponents in singles play. Another freshman, Neils Barringer, made a name for herself, finishing strong with a record of 14-6, as fellow frosh Alejandra Guerra had many solid wins. A fourth freshman, Arielle Von Strolley, won all of her four matches after arriving in the spring.
For the second year in a row, sophomore Julia Roach lead the team in singles wins with 16, with 12 of those coming at No. 5 spot. Roach also had the team's longest winning streak with eight straight victories. Together, Roach and Lee had a lucrative doubles season, finishing 10-9. Johansson also had a winning season, with an impressive seven match winning streak, while finishing 8-2 in singles work.
The season started off on the right foot, with the red and white tying the best start to a season in school history after collecting eight straight wins, six of which were by shutout. February 19 was a day to remember for the Wolfpack, as the team traveled to Miami, Fla. and won its very first match over a top-25 opponent, No. 25 Florida International. NC State battled back after dropping the doubles point by winning four singles bouts. Following the 4-3 triumph over Florida International, NC State would go on to overwhelm seven more ranked squads. One week later, the Pack took on No. 64 Marshall. Netting the 5-2 win, the team gave Olsen his 175th career victory as a head coach.
Another ranked team that fell victim to the Pack was conference foe No. 64 Florida State, who the Pack played on March 25. NC State had yet to gain its first ACC victory on the season, and it had been eight years since the Seminoles were last taken down by the red and white in 1998. The team came out strong, collecting the doubles point for an early lead. The Pack would then go on to win four of the singles bouts for the upset.
Following the Florida State match, the Pack took a hard loss against Miami, being completely shutout by the No. 7 team. However, the team bounced right back with wins over No. 33 Virginia and No. 66 Virginia Tech. After falling to No. 37 Maryland, and taking down No. 65 Boston College, the Pack ended the season with two losses against No. 21 Clemson and No. 12 Georgia Tech.
The team's 4-7 record in the ACC did not stop them from playing as hard as they could in the conference tournament. NC State took on Maryland, in the first round of the ACC Championships. The Terps, who topped NC State earlier in the regular season, had climbed in the polls to No. 29 and was riding a hot streak of sorts. The Pack made up for the earlier loss to the Terps, downing the Turtle 4-0 for its first postseason win since the 1998 season. The Pack fell to No. 10 Georgia Tech in the second round; while the Yellow Jackets went on to collect the tournament crown.
Before this year, the Pack's 1998 NCAA Tournament appearance marked its only showing in the postseason tournament. All of that changed on May 3, when NC State was extended a big in the Richmond, Va. regional. On May 12, the red and white took on No. 24 William and Mary in one of its toughest matches of the season. Tied it a dead-heat at 3-3, it was up to Chandrasekar to take the Wolfpack to the second round. The senior battled through three sets and emerged with the win, marking the Pack's first ever NCAA Tournament win and making the 2006 squad the most winning team in Wolfpack women's tennis history.
The next day the Pack took on No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth in the second round of the NCAA tournament, falling 4-0, and ending its season with a 17-10 slate.
With an impressive season behind them, the Wolfpack is already looking ahead to next year, as the majority of the roster returns with postseason experience and a winning mindset.
Entering her third year with the Pack, Roach will surely continue to be consistent. In addition, with one season of college tennis on their resume, the powerhouse freshman group of Lee, Barringer, Guerra and Von Strolley will only continue to improve and create more problems for the opposition.
New stars may emerge out of other current team members, and new recruits will add additional power and depth. With its sights set on reaching the NCAA Tournament for a second-straight season, the Pack knows it has the talent to compete these days. They just have to leave it all on the court.