Florida hands UNC ?rst loss of the season

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UNC Sophomore Caroline Price returns the ball in her singles match against Danielle Collins.

The No. 1 North Carolina women’s tennis team’s match against No. 2 Florida was predestined to be a hard-fought battle for both teams. And it did not disappoint.

Though Florida won 4-2, the Gators needed two of the final three singles matches to clinch the victory, and they found those two wins before the third match ended.

Coach Brian Kalbas said he was proud of his team for its competitive effort, despite a trying past several days of competition that included the program’s first ITA National Team Indoor Championships victory.

“We did not give it to them,” said Kalbas.

It was the Tar Heels’ first loss in a dual match this season.

Freshman Whitney Kay, who was named the ITA Most Outstanding Player in last week’s tournament, was in her third set when her match was stopped after the Gators clinched their match-winning singles victories.

“It’s been a long couple of weeks, but we played really well and we went out and fought,” Kay said. “I’m still very proud of the team.”

She said she was disappointed she couldn’t finish her match but was proud of her team’s combative efforts during a hectic week of competition.

The Tar Heels worked hard for their two points, including one which took nearly two hours to claim — the doubles point, won in a tiebreak by seniors Zoe De Bruycker and Gina Suarez-Malaguti.

That match (9-8, 7-5) exemplified the determined mentality that the women demonstrated in all of their matches.

The Tar Heels lost both deciding singles matches in three sets to two Florida players ranked in the nation’s top 10.

Kalbas attributed Monday’s loss to a variety of factors.

“It’s a combination of playing a very experienced and talented Florida team,” he said. “And then us coming off a very grueling four-day stretch playing four of the best teams in the nation.”

Sophomore Caroline Price, who is ranked 31st nationally, won the only singles point for the Tar Heels.

Price won in straight sets, defeating Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2.

Kalbas said he has started to expect Price to secure a point for the team after her recent outstanding performances.

“She’s really been a strong point for us, probably our best point so far this season,” Kalbas said.

After suffering an injury in the fall, Price has returned strong, winning all of her matches in dual match play.

Kalbas said he has been impressed by her dedication to recovery and winning for the team.

“I am just really excited for her and how well she has done this season so far,” he said. “She is playing very focused tennis, very committed tennis.”

Price said she was disappointed by the overall results but was satisfied with her personal performance.

“It’s a bummer that we didn’t win, but I try to go out and help the team the best that I can,” she said. “And I feel like I did that today.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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