Throughout her doubles and singles matches, Daavettila was smiling and laughing with an extra skip in her step. Her carefree attitude was infectious, eliciting smiles from her teammates and a few chuckles from her coach. Even when her vocal singles opponent was shouting, the redhead shook her head, smiled, and decided to “not say anything and kill ‘em with kindness.”
Daavettila’s happy-go-lucky attitude sharply contrasts with her newbie doubles partner’s personality and that is why they have strong chemistry on and off the court. The two balance each other out, just like the personalities on the team as a whole balance out.
“Alle is very, very intense, and Sara tries to keep her loose,” head coach Brian Kalbas said. “Sara doesn’t take herself too seriously, and Alle takes herself very, very seriously.”
“Their personalities really gel well when they’re on the doubles court because they can help each other. Alle can help keep Sara a little more on task, and Sara can definitely keep her a little bit more relaxed and even keel.”
After the Tar Heels sealed the doubles point in a 6-3 win from Daavettila and Sanford on Court Two, the personalities on the team came out again in singles play when some Tar Heels lost sight of their theme of the season — be professional.
“At times, we were a little too emotional and a little too erratic with our play,” Kalbas said. “We’re playing these ACC teams. We got to expect that they’ll bring competitive fire and come at us because of where we position ourselves, we’re a target and a good opportunity for them.”
No. 93 sophomore Alexa Graham set the tone as “all business and really focused” through her 6-1, 6-2 singles win for a 2-0 lead, while some of the other players weren't as level headed.
No. 15 sophomore Makenna Jones in particular found it hard to keep her cool. After battling through her first set for a 7-5 win, her patience started to wear thin throughout the second set. At times, she started yelling at herself and threw her racquet against the wall or on the ground on the way to a 7-5, 7-5 win in two close sets.
Others lost concentration by doubting themselves. Sanford ultimately lost her singles match in a third set tiebreaker after a few miscalculation mistakes.
“When she lost the second set after being down 5-0 and won a couple games," Kalbas said, "I just wanted her to get off to a good start and kind of start playing her game, because she kind of retreated and stopped really believing in herself."
His pep talk worked but only for a short period of time. Sanford had a strong start to her third set, plowing her way to lead 5-0 but eventually let up — a mistake that would cost her the win 7-6 in the final set.
“She played a loose game and the tensity dropped, and the girl she played was very good,” Kalbas said. “You can’t do that, especially at one of the top positions.”
Despite the defeat of the No. 8 first-year, Kalbas still sees his team and his underclassmen prospering. The team just needs to work on keeping it all under control.
“They’re doing a great job of playing great tennis, working hard, coming in extra and improving," he said. "The present looks really good for us, and the future looks even better.”
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