Women's tennis team switches gears for dual matches

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Gina Suarez-Malaguti

Tennis is widely considered an individual sport — an intense battle between two competitors divided by a net.

And since the beginning of the fall, the members of the North Carolina women’s tennis team have solely represented themselves in tournaments across the nation.

But starting today, those individuals will finally come together and form the eighth-ranked team in the nation.

“So far it’s been all individual tournaments and results,” coach Brian Kalbas said. “But now we turn the switch — starting tomorrow it’s all about what’s best for the team.”

Though Kalbas is pleased with his team’s individual performance thus far, he is even more excited about seeing them work together.

“That’s what’s wonderful about college tennis,” Kalbas said. “They’ll be able to impact one another while playing next to their teammates. Your intensity, your emotion, your effort and attitude has a contagious effect on the players playing next to you.”

The Tar Heels have a talented group with seven women ranked in the top 125 nationally along with two doubles teams ranked in the country’s top 60.

Kalbas is counting on his senior captains, Zoe De Bruycker, Lauren McHale and Gina Suarez-Malaguti, to step up as leaders and end their careers on a high note.

“All three of them are captains and deserve it for a lot of reasons,” Kalbas said. “The last four years have been the most successful years in the history of our program, and they are all a big reason for that.”

UNC will be trying to improve upon the 2011-12 season in which they were the ACC tournament runners-up before bowing out in the NCAA’s round of 16.

Suarez-Malaguti said she is ready to wrap up individual tournaments and begin her final season of team competition.

“I definitely like the team competition better,” said Suarez-Malaguti, the 11th ranked player in the nation.

“It’s not like individuals where you’re just playing for yourself and your mom. If you get down, your teammate is right there next to you, pushing you up.”

UNC will begin its dual meet season with a home double-header against UNC-Greensboro at 2 p.m. before facing Elon at 7 p.m.

UNC is favored against the two unranked teams, but regardless of the level of competition, the team is ready to have some matches in Chapel Hill.

“I’m really glad we have more home matches this year because I didn’t really get to experience many of those last year,” sophomore Caroline Price said. “It’s just so special to be playing with that N.C. sign right behind you.

“It’s almost hard to explain but to have your whole team and all your friends and fans supporting you is just the coolest feeling. I’m really excited for tomorrow in case you can’t tell.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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