During the 2016 Oracle ITA Masters, Hayley Carter and Luisa Stefani were on opposite sides of the court. The match ended with Stefani moving on and finishing as the runner-up of the event. 

Four years later, the scene looks quite different. Sunday saw the pair claim a WTA doubles title together. Carter and Stefani have played as doubles partners since 2019. At the Top Seed Open in Lexington, the pair did not drop a set en route to their doubles title. 

The duo dominated the field including taking down No. 20 Bethanie Mattek-Sands and partner Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

In the newly released WTA doubles rankings, Carter moved up five spots to No. 38 while Stefani trails closely behind, moving up 6 spots to No. 39. 

After an impressive doubles title win, we take a look back into the legendary college careers that shaped them into the professional players they are today.

Hayley Carter | University of North Carolina ‘13-17

Throughout her four years with the Tar Heels, Carter was a leader for the rising national powerhouse. 

As a freshman, Carter had an explosive year. In addition to being named an ITA All-American in singles and doubles, she finished No. 3 in the Oracle ITA Rankings in singles and doubles. Alongside Jamie Loeb, she reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA doubles bracket. During the NCAA team championship, Carter went 5-0 in singles with her final victory being over UCLA’s Jennifer Brady.

Hayley Carter during her time playing for the North Carolina Tar Heels. Photo provided by North Carolina Athletics.

Coming off finishing runner-up in the NCAA team championships the previous season, Carter and the Tar Heels captured the 2015 ITA National Team Indoor Championship title. Once again she was named an ITA All-American in singles. The Tar Heels reached a school-record tying 30 dual match wins her sophomore year.

During her junior season, Carter continued to leave her name all over the Tar Heels history books. She became the first UNC player to be ranked No. 1 in singles and doubles simultaneously – a feat she held from March 8th to April 12th in 2015. Her stellar play in the regular season secured the No. 1 seed in singles and doubles for the NCAA championships. 

Carter was named ACC Player of the Year, ACC Tournament MVP, and ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in back-to-back seasons – she is the only women’s tennis player in ACC history to do so. She also finished as the ACC’s all-time leader in women’s tennis singles victories.

Throughout her four years, she was named an ITA All-American seven times. Carter ended her collegiate career ranked No. 3 in singles and No. 5 in doubles in the Oracle ITA Rankings.

Luisa Stefani | Pepperdine University ‘15-18

Luisa Stefani only spent three seasons with the Waves, but during that time she cemented herself as one of the best to ever play for the program. Stefani finished her collegiate career ranked No. 1 in career winning percentage (.847).

During her first year with the Waves, Stefani shot to the top of the Oracle ITA Rankings. In singles, she reached as high as No. 2 and in doubles, she topped out at No. 8. Stefani posted a 40-6 overall singles record that season along with reaching the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championships. A Pepperdine Wave had not gone this deep in the Championships since Noelle Porter-Radnoti did so in 1989. 

Luisa Stefani during her time playing for the Pepperdine Waves. Photo provided by Pepperdine Athletics.

Alongside partner Rungerldriangkrai, Stefani went 7-4 in doubles against nationally-ranked opponents. A signature win came against No. 2 Taylor Davidson and Caroline Doyle of the Stanford Cardinal. The pair’s victory helped Pepperdine to a 4-3 win over Stanford – the first victory over the national powerhouse in Pepperdine history.

In her second season with Pepperdine, Stefani once again reached as high as No. 2 in singles. In doubles, she reached as high as No. 6. Along with competing in the NCAA Singles Championships, Stefani finished as the runner-up in the Oracle ITA Masters.

In her final season in Malibu, Stefani posted a 16-4 overall singles record and 17-4 overall doubles record. In the opening round of the NCAA Singles Championships, Stefani defeated top-ranked Bianca Turati. In the doubles national championship, she bested top-ranked Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones to move onto the quarterfinals.

Stefani was named an ITA All-American in singles all three years of her collegiate career. In 2016, she was named the ITA National Rookie of the Year. Additionally, she was named the WCC Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons making her only the 5th WCC women’s tennis player in history to do so.

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