Earlier this season, the Virginia women's tennis team knocked off then-No. 1 Duke, sending a message to the rest of the ACC that the Cavaliers were to be taken serious.
Sunday the Wahoos cemented that message by dispatching the Blue Devils yet again -- only this time, winning their first ACC Championship in the process.
Sophomore Stephanie Nauta fought off a pair of match points to post a three-set win over Duke's Hanna Mar, sending No. 3 seed Virginia to a 4-2 win over No. 5 seed Duke Sunday in Cary, NC.
Virginia, which improved its record to a school-best 21-5, won the doubles point and received singles victories from ACC Championship Most Valuable Player Danielle Collins, Maci Epstein and Nauta.
"Honestly, you can plan for an ACC title, but win, lose or draw these are the kinds of matches you want to play in," Virginia head coach Mark Guilbeau said. "This championship is going to lead to some great things and it's a great moment. This is great for our program and University. I'm very happy and proud of our fans, too. What an awesome group of folks."
For the third straight match, Virginia claimed the doubles point with wins at Nos. 3 and 2. No. 13 Rachel Pierson and Julia Elbaba beat No. 30 Alyssa Smith and Ester Goldfeld 8-6 on court two. Epstein and Collins clinched the point by holding off No. 88 Annie Mulholland and Chalena Scholl 8-6 on court three.
No. 36 Collins made it 2-0 with a 6-3, 6-1 win on court two. After Duke tied it at 2-2, Epstein gave Virginia a 3-2 lead with a 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 comeback win on court five and Nauta clinched the win with a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(7-3) win on court three.
"It was amazing to be able to clinch for the championship," Nauta said. "It's the best feeling ever. Mar's a fighter and she comes back. This time I was expecting it. I tried to stay as mentally tough as I could and finish it for my team."
Virginia will compete in its school-record sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament beginning May 9-10. The Cavaliers, who are expected to host the first and second rounds at Snyder Tennis Center, will learn their first-round opponent during the NCAA Women's Tennis Selection Show on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
#7 Virginia 4, #6 Duke 2
1. #5 Capra/Mar (DU) def. Nauta/Xi (UVa) 8-3
2. #13 Elbaba/Pierson (UVa) def. #30 Goldfeld/Smith (DU) 8-6
3. Collins/Epstein (UVa) vs. #88 Scholl/Mulholland (DU) 8-6
1. #4 Julia Elbaba (UVa) vs. #7 Beatrice Capra (DU) 5-7, 6-2, 4-4, DNF
2. #36 Danielle Collins (UVa) def. #26 Ester Goldfeld (DU) 6-3, 6-1
3. #62 Stephanie Nauta (UVa) def. #35 Hanna Mar (DU) 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(3)
4. Chalena Scholl (DU) def. #69 Rachel Pierson (UVa) 4-6, 6-0, 6-2
5. Maci Epstein (UVa) def. #113 Alyssa Smith (DU) 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-1
6. Rachel Kahan (DU) def. Caryssa Peretz (UVa) 7-5, 6-3