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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels Smother Richmond

The Tar Heels breezed past the Spiders 7-0 in both teams' first official match of the season.

At last weekend's Carolina Indoor Invitational, UNC's singles lineup was solid, but the Tar Heels were vulnerable in doubles action, capturing only three out of seven matches.

Problem identified. Solution found.

"There were a lot of communication things we needed to work on," UNC coach Roland Thornqvist said. "We did a good job of focusing during the week of practice on improving some of that stuff."

The improvement was evident on the courts. North Carolina won all three doubles matches Saturday, which awarded the Tar Heels one point in the team competition.

Sophomore Marlene Mejia and freshman Julie Rotondi set the tone early by routing Jodi Kenoyer and Jeannette Cluskey 8-3.

Freshman Lee Bairos and senior Erin Niebling chipped in with another 8-3 win against Casey Cohen and Patty Devlin.

The sophomore combo of Kendrick Bunn and Kate Pinchbeck added a hard-fought 8-6 victory. The chemistry between Bunn and Pinchbeck, together ranked 25th nationally by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, has made them one of the best doubles teams in the country.

"We find it easy to talk on the court, and we joke around," Pinchbeck said. "It makes it fun, and when it is fun, we play better."

On the singles side, the Tar Heels reeled off six straight-set wins.

Mejia, ranked 11th in the country, continued her dominance at the No. 1 seed, defeating Kenoyer 6-2, 6-1.

Pinchbeck, at the No. 3 seed, displayed a diverse arsenal of shots en route to a 6-1, 6-2 win. The 5-foot-4 Australian effectively used the defensive lob shot, while displaying a consistent backhand and forehand.

Ironically, the girl from Down Under uses the lob to go over the top of her opponent. In her singles and doubles matches, Pinchbeck surprised her opponents and won several points with the shot.

"The lob is a big shot for her," Thornqvist said. "She can really mix up her game."

Rotondi and Cluskey battled through a long first set tiebreaker in the most competitive singles match of the day. After trailing 4-2 in the second set, Rotondi broke Cluskey's serve twice before serving out the match.

Rotondi, ranked 29th, took the match 7-6, 6-4. Junior Kristin Koenig recorded a 6-2, 6-1 decision at the No. 4 spot,while 5th-seeded Caroline Hill notched a 6-1, 6-4 victory. Bairos rounded out the scoring with a 6-1, 6-4 win against Patty Devlin.

The Tar Heels will be back in action Thursday night when they host UNC-Greensboro.

Thornqvist said, "If we can keep improving ourselves every match, down the road we are going to be exactly where we want to be."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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