After losing for the third time in one year to No. 2 Florida, including a loss in the Final Four last year, the No. 4 North Carolina women’s tennis team may be looking for a silver lining.
The Tar Heels should look no further than sophomore Lauren McHale.
McHale was the only Tar Heel who did not suffer a defeat in UNC’s 5-2 loss after winning in both doubles and singles play. More impressive, though, were the opponents she beat.
McHale and Shinann Featherston are the eighth-ranked doubles team in the country and typically favored to win. But not against the No. 1-ranked doubles team in the country.
Florida freshman Sofie Oyen and sophomore Allie Will were on a 14-match winning streak, the ninth-longest in Florida team history, but they were no match for Featherston and McHale, falling 8-3.
“We have been working really hard coming in early to practice and working on doubles so it has paid off,” McHale said.
What might have been even more impressive was how easily McHale and Featherston were able to control the rallies and hit winners. McHale attributed the success to the mindset that she had entering the match.
“Before even coming onto the court we both were mentally prepared and were ready to do whatever it took to win the match,” McHale said.
McHale, ranked No. 86 in the country in singles, scored another upset in a gritty come-from-behind victory against No. 22 Olivia Janowicz, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.