Akli, Hamner Conclude NCAA Run in Quarterfinals
Orlando, Fla. – South Carolina women’s tennis senior Ayana Akli and sophomore Sarah Hamner concluded their runs at the NCAA Championships on Thursday in the quarterfinal rounds of both the Singles and Doubles Championships.
No. 12 Akli began her day in the Singles Quarterfinals, taking on No. 11 Maddy Sieg of Southern California. The Gamecock was slow to get going on the day, giving up three breaks in the first set for Sieg to take it 6-1.
In the second set, neither Akli nor Sieg could hold serve with breaks happening for each of the first four games of the set. Sieg was first to finally win her own service game to go up 3-2, but Akli tied things up at three all and again at four all. From there, the Gamecock finally was able to earn a break to take the lead at 5-4, allowing her to serve out the set 6-4.
In the third set, Sieg got off to a strong start, breaking Akli’s first serve to take a 2-0 lead, but Akli responded, taking a break of her own to tie things at two all. Seig took her own next serve to lead 3-2 and broke Akli’s next serve to increase her lead to 4-2. After taking her own next service game to be one game away from the win, Akli served and saved match point at deuce to keep the match alive. The energy didn’t last long though with Sieg taking the final game off her own serve to win it with a 6-3 final set.
Akli concludes her singles season with a team-leading 34-10 record and with her first career ITA Singles All American honors.
In the Doubles Quarterfinals, Akli returned to action with Hamner, facing No. 18 Sieg and Eryn Cayetano. The Trojan pair earned an early break to start the match and jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but the Gamecocks broke back, tying at three all. Sieg and Cayetano immediately responded with a break of their own to lead again at 4-3, and served their way out to a 40-0 game, but Akli and Hamner dug deep to pull themselves out of the deficit, taking the break at deuce to tie again at four all. Each pair took their own next service games through the next three, but the Gamecocks were able to claim the set with one final break at 7-5.
The second set didn’t go quite as smoothly for the Gamecocks with the duo giving up a pair of breaks for the Trojans to even things with a 6-3 second set.
With the match evened, the final set was played as a ten-point tiebreaker. Akli and Hamner got off to a hot start, claiming the point off the Trojans first serve and a second point off Hamner’s serve, but the momentum didn’t last with Hamner double faulting to give the point back. Cayetano and Sieg claimed the next two points to take a 3-2 lead, but the Gamecocks tied things at three all. Unfortunately for Akli and Hamner, that would be the only points that they were able to put on the board with the Trojan pair taking the next seven points for the win.
Akli and Hamner, who originally were the fifth alternates in the draw, conclude their run in the quarterfinals and with both of them achieving their first career ITA Doubles All-American honors. Together, they amassed an overall record of 18-9 on the season.
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(11) Maddy Sieg (SoCal) def. (12) Ayana Akli (SC) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
(18) Eryn Cayetano/Maddy Sieg (SoCal) def. (33) Ayana Akli/Sarah Hamner (SC) 5-7, 6-3, 1-0(3)