North Carolina women's tennis player Kendrick Bunn was drenched in sweat, and she was breathing heavily.
When South Carolina's Lynn-Yin Tan put a backhand into the net, Bunn was finally able to celebrate a singles victory and a 4-3 win for the Tar Heels.
Bunn and Caroline Hill outlasted and outdueled their opponents when No. 19 UNC (8-1) needed it most. Down 2-3 to the No. 18 Gamecocks, it was all-out warfare on the court as Bunn and Hill both won three-set thrillers.
"It looked grim," UNC coach Roland Thornqvist said. "But we had to play smart tennis in the end -- be calm and be poised."
After Hill captured her match in a third-set tiebreaker, the teams were tied at 3-3, and it was up to Bunn to seal the win.
Bunn and Tan battled throughout their match at the No. 4 seed, but the third set epitomized the struggle between the Tar Heels and the Gamecocks (5-4), who lost to No. 2 Georgia 4-3 Sunday.
With Bunn leading 4-2, the players tested each other's wills with 12 deuces. Tan finally broke Bunn's serve, but neither player could hold serve for the next three games.
"You try not to focus on being tired," Bunn said. "You try to concentrate on the point."
With Bunn up 5-4, Tan hit a backhand into the net on the game's second deuce point. She followed with a forehand into the net to concede the victory to Bunn and UNC.