The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday June 5th

UNC Tennis Warms Up In Tourney

The North Carolina women's tennis team struggled last season.

Injuries and inexperience combined to thwart a return to the NCAA tournament.

UNC began the 2001 season with a strong opening statement in the Carolina Indoor Tournament this weekend. The Tar Heels held their own against William & Mary and Texas, ranked 6th and 15th respectively in the nation.

While there was no official winner this weekend, the unranked Tar Heels showed that they have a deep team this year.

"I thought we played excellent the whole weekend," UNC coach Roland Thornqvist said. "We competed well. We showed that we are at (Texas and William & Mary's) level ourselves."

Sophomore Marlene Mejia led North Carolina's charge.

Mejia, playing No. 1 singles and doubles, did not drop a match and asserted herself as the leader of the Tar Heels.

"I was a little nervous at first just because it is the first tournament of the year," Mejia said.

"But I am really happy with the way I played. As a team, we just want to keep improving from match to match, so that when the (NCAA) tournament comes, we will be ready to play our best."

Mejia, Kate Pinchbeck, Kristin Koenig and Caroline Hill all went 3-0 for UNC in singles in the tournament.

Hill's perfect record was in peril Sunday when she fell behind a set against William & Mary's Julie Sullivan. Down 5-4 in the second set, Hill had to break Sullivan's serve to keep the match alive.

After several deuces, Hill forced Sullivan into two straight errors, winning the game and tying the set. Hill seemed to have broken Sullivan's will as well as breaking her serve. The final score of the match was 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.

"Our singles lineup is shaping up, but we still need to get a little better at doubles," Thornqvist said.

With the exception of Mejia and freshman Julie Rotondi, who captured their doubles match, Thornqvist did not see much consistency in his doubles teams.

"Julie and Marlene expect to win," Thornqvist said. "They have a shot of beating anyone they play. But we are still searching for another two teams to fill out our three doubles.

"I still think we can be very good at doubles. We just have a little more work to do in that area."

Thornqvist, a 1993 UNC graduate and former ACC player of the year in tennis, is in his third season as coach of the Tar Heels. In his first year, his team made the NCAA tournament. In his second, the Tar Heels did not.

This year, Thornqvist said he sees a return trip to NCAAs as a distinct possibility.

"If we stay healthy, I think we can have a pretty good year."


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