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The Daily Tar Heel

Women's Tennis Wins In Dramatic Fashion

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.

"I just felt that when it got that close it could go either way," Bunn said. "I just tried to get one more ball back each time."

Bunn's comrades, who were standing on the adjacent court cheering her on, rushed the court and embraced the victor.

Hill exemplified the fighting spirit of the Tar Heels with her three-set victory in No. 6 singles against Leigh Eichelberger.

Hill lost the first set 6-2, but won the second

6-3. A decisive third set ensued. Hill broke serve twice and took a 5-2 lead, but she couldn't put Eichelberger away. Eichelberger won the next three games to tie the score at 5-5.

The two combatants looked sluggish as they took baseline shot after baseline shot to go into a tiebreaker at 6-6.

Hill won the tiebreaker 7-4, giving the Tar Heels a 3-3 tie in the overall score.

"There's no need to dwell on the pain," Hill said. "You just have to focus on what you can do."

Physically, the Tar Heels were very tough, and they were forced to be especially tough mentally after losing all three doubles matches to start the day.

"This was the first match of the year that we didn't play good doubles," Thornqvist said. "But we talked about handling losing doubles points and how to fight back."

Top two seeds Marlene Mejia and Kate Pinchbeck contributed to the Tar Heels' victory with 7-6 (0), 6-2 and 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 wins, respectively.


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