UNC women’s tennis team grabs ACC season title
On a cold and windy day in Chestnut Hill, Mass., the weather was the smallest of obstacles the No. 1 North Carolina women’s tennis team had faced in the last few days. The team carried the same unfazed mentality it used this past weekend to defeat No. 63 Boston College Monday and claim the outright ACC regular season title.
In the 4-0 victory against the Eagles (9-9, 3-7 ACC), the Tar Heels (24-2, 10-1 ACC) took the doubles point along with singles wins from freshman Whitney Kay and seniors Lauren McHale and Zoe De Bruycker.
On Sunday, UNC clinched at least a share of the ACC regular season title, but senior Gina Suarez-Malaguti said the team didn’t want to share.
“We’ve worked so hard, and just in comparison to those teams, we’ve really shown we’re the better team,” Suarez-Malaguti said. “We’re classier, more athletic, feistier, more competitive, so after all that hard work, to share that with a team that we don’t consider as tough as we are is sad.”
Had the Tar Heels lost Monday or elected not to return to Boston after having Friday’s match postponed, they would have shared the regular season title with Clemson and UVa., the only ACC team UNC lost to this season.
“(Coach Brian Kalbas) asked us if we wanted to come back to Boston or share the title with UVa. or Clemson, and we’re like, ‘No, we don’t care if we miss classes on Monday,’” McHale said. “Whatever it takes, we wanted to come here and win.”
Kalbas reflected on the season, and said senior leadership, depth and chemistry have been the keys to winning an indoor national championship in February and now the ACC regular season, Kalbas’ second at UNC.
After a long road trip that saw the team fly to Massachusetts, then to Maryland and then back up to Massachusetts, the Tar Heels said they’re exhausted and looking forward to returning to Chapel Hill.
“We’ve flown four out of the last five days, so it’s amazing how our team’s been able to handle the rigors of going hotel to hotel, the difficult circumstances (with the lockdown) and playing back-to-back days,” Kalbas said. “We got into our hotel at 11:30 last night — it was a long weekend.”
For now, the Tar Heels can rest as champions, but the turnaround will be quick. Suarez-Malaguti said the key for this week is to get prepared mentally and physically.
“Everyone is going to come at us,” Suarez-Malaguti said. “We’re the big target. We have to be ready for that and bring our ‘A’ game all the time. I have no doubt that we’re going to do amazingly.”
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