Junior Li Xi saved two match points during her match-clinching victory at No. 4 singles as No. 14 Virginia rallied for a dramatic 4-3 win over No. 14 Texas in the second of the NCAA Women’s Tournament on Sunday at Snyder Tennis Center.
The Cavaliers improve to 19-9 and advance to the NCAA Round of 16 for the third straight season. Virginia takes on Texas A&M on Friday, May 17.
“I’m so happy for the kids, that’s really what you think about,” UVa head coach Mark Guilbeau said. “So happy they get to go and play another match and specifically, make the round of 16. We’re going to prepare and be ready and have a great time going after it.”
After Texas won the doubles point, Erin Vierra tied the score at 1-1 with a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 5
The Longhorns then took a 2-1 lead but Caryssa Peretz tied the score at 2-2 with a 6-4, 6-2 decision at No. 6.
Hana Tomljanovic gave the Cavaliers a 3-2 lead with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4) win at No. 3 singles. Tomljanovic was down two breaks at 4-1 in the third set before rallying to force a third-set breaker. In the tiebreaker, Tomljanovic trailed 3-0 before winning seven of the next eight points to clinch her win.
Texas then won at No. 1 singles to force a 3-3 tie.
After losing the first set, Xi was down a break at 4-2 in the second before getting the set to a tiebreaker. During the second-set tiebreaker, Xi saved match points at 5-6 and 6-7 before winning 9-7 to force a decisive third set. Like Tomljanovic, Xi also trailed by two breaks at 4-1 in the third set. Xi won the next three games to get back on serve and the set eventually went to a tiebreaker. Xi dominated the third-set tiebreaker, 7-0, to punch Virginia’s third straight NCAA Sweet 16 berth.
“I told myself that I’m not going to lose this match,” Xi said. “I’m just going to fight until the end. I tried to play well every point. I didn’t think about the score. I just played.”