Collins rallies to beat Chi for NCAA singles title

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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Danielle Collins has carried Virginia to new heights.

Collins beat California’s Lynn Chi 6-2, 7-5 in a matchup of two unseeded players to become the Cavaliers’ first NCAA women’s singles champion Monday.

“The last two months of the season, she’s been remarkable,” coach Mark Guilbeau said. “She was carrying our team and supporting the other kids while she was literally playing her point, so I saw the level really peak.”

Collins, Virginia’s first woman to advance as far as the national quarterfinals, won 11 straight points in the second set to rally from a 3-5 deficit.

After relying on her backhand earlier in the match, Collins (36-10) switched strategies and was able to choose easy targets with her forehand.

“I never thought that I’d get to the finals,” Collins said. “It’s unbelievable. I never expected that or anything near that.”

Chi (38-11) was trying to become the Bears’ second singles champion in four years.

Collins led Virginia to its first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title last month, and the Cavs tied for the regular-season championship.

Collins, a sophomore, took advantage of Chi’s second serve most of the afternoon.

“You do it all season, and it starts to become automatic,” Collins said. “It’s something that I’m really confident in doing. It’s definitely a strength in my game at this point.”

Chi had upset top-seeded Jamie Loeb of North Carolina in the quarterfinals. Collins knocked off No. 2-seeded Robin Anderson of UCLA in the third round.

Chi acknowledged pain in a tender ankle that’s bothered her for three months and left knee and hamstring soreness.

But Chi credited Collins with winning decisively.

“She played really well at the end,” Chi said. “She hit some really nice shots. I made a few errors. I had that one game where I hit, I think, four balls in the tape, but she did hit some really nice shots, so you can’t do much about that.”

Alabama won its first doubles title, as the fourth-seeded tandem of Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe beat No. 2-seeded Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase of Georgia 6-1, 6-0.

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