Entire team contributes in the North Carolina women's tennis team's First Round NCAA Tournament win over Furman
The top half of this North Carolina women’s tennis lineup demands a lot of attention.
And it should.
Jessie Aney, who plays on Court Three in singles and is Hayley Carter’s partner for the No. 4 doubles tandem in the country, is 35-6 in singles and 23-1 in doubles in 2017. On Court Two, the Tar Heels boast a true first-year in Sara Daavettila, who ranks No. 18 in singles nationally and plays on the No. 2 doubles team for North Carolina.
And then there’s Hayley Carter — the No. 2 singles player in the nation, the ACC Player of the Year for the second year in a row, an Academic All-District selection for a third consecutive year and the ACC Championship’s Most Valuable Player. The senior hasn’t lost a singles match in dual teams since Miami’s Stephanie Wagner took her down February 26, 2016, and she currently has the ACC record for most career singles wins.
Objectively speaking, Carter is one of the most decorated athletes in North Carolina history.
“Hayley’s just such a role model for all of us,” first-year Alexa Graham said. “Just to be able to be one of her best friends and to be on court with her everyday — I’m just so lucky.”
But don’t let the accolades and talent from these three players define the team’s strength. As the Tar Heels (31-2, 13-1 ACC) proved Saturday afternoon — when they defeated Furman 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament — they’re deep.
Courts Two (6-2) and Three (6-1) dominated on Saturday to clinch the doubles point that’s proven elusive to the Tar Heels several times this year. And in singles, sophomore Chloe Ouellet-Pizer cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win on Court Six, first-year Alexa Graham dominated in her 6-1, 6-3 win on Court Four and Makenna Jones wrapped up the match with a 6-0, 6-2 result on Court Five.
As it turned out, players outside the top half of the singles lineup made their mark on the final result.
“I don’t know too many number six players that are playing better than Chloe right now, or at least putting the point on the board like she has been doing,” head coach Brian Kalbas said. “It’s amazing when you got all six players that can compete against the best teams in the country.”
Should North Carolina take care of business against Ole Miss at 3 p.m. on Sunday, the Tar Heels will play in the NCAA Round of 16 on Friday in Athens, Georgia, at 9 a.m.
“I’m one of those people who are like, ‘I don’t even want to know who’s next. I don’t want to know at all,’” Jones said. “You could see out here that we didn’t take (Furman) lightly. We were in every match and we made every point important.”
Saturday, it wasn’t only a matter of when before the Tar Heels moved on to the second round.
Rather — because of the Tar Heels’ wealth of talent throughout the lineup — it seems like it was also a matter of who.
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