Current Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 21:08:03 -0400
Ranked No. 8 in the nation for women’s tennis singles, freshman Hayley Carter would be the outright star on most college teams. The North Carolina women’s tennis team, with No. 1 overall singles player Jamie Loeb, is not most college teams.
Even without Carter, who pulled her hip flexor during the weekend, the Tar Heels didn’t have any trouble handling Norfolk State and East Carolina on Wednesday. Loeb won both her singles matches Wednesday, but neither doubles match finished as UNC had already clinched the doubles point.
While the North Carolina men’s team has received its fair share of attention for its group of four freshmen, the women have two of their own leading the way in Loeb and Carter.
Loeb, who jumped from No. 2 to No. 1 in the Feb. 11 rankings, lost just her second singles match all season last week to No. 3 Beatrice Capra of Duke. Since then, she has recorded victories against opponents from Georgia, Norfolk State and ECU, bringing her overall record to 28-2 this season.
“It feels great, obviously,” Loeb said of her ranking. “Everyone is out to get me, but I think that’s what motivates me to get better and keep improving.”
She also said the internal competition she has with Carter helps keep her on her feet.
“Having her there as someone that has the same dreams as me and wants to go pro … is great and makes me want to keep getting better.”
Carter also appreciates the additional pressure that comes with playing alongside a top player.
“I think we really push each other, and I don’t think I would be anywhere near the player I am right now if I didn’t have her to push me,” she said. “And I think it’s the same with her.”
While Loeb gets most of the attention, coach Brian Kalbas said this season is the first that the team has had two top-10 players, and Carter deserves just as much recognition as Loeb.
“What she’s doing is tremendous,” he said. “I know Jamie gets a lot of credit … but what Hayley’s done is remarkable.
“Jamie and Hayley, they feed off each other, they’re good friends, they have a friendly rivalry going, but because they are pushing each other to get better and having each other around is going to make them each better.”