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The Daily Tar Heel

Women’s tennis tops Minnesota at home

The North Carolina women’s tennis team won its fifth straight dual match Thursday, with the victory coming in dominant fashion.

No. 3 UNC handled Minnesota 7-0 at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center in Chapel Hill.

The Tar Heels (12-3, 1-0 ACC) started quickly, sweeping Minnesota (4-10, 0-1 Big Ten) in doubles to earn the first point.

Shinann Featherston and Gina Suarez-Malaguti won their match 9-7, Jelena Durisic and Haley Hemm won 8-5 and Laura Slater and Jennifer Stone won 8-3.

After securing the doubles point, it was smooth sailing in singles play with UNC losing only one set.

“We have had such a tough schedule, and any time you can win in a convincing manner like this, I think it adds a lot of confidence and gives you a lot of momentum going into the rest of the season,” UNC coach Brian Kalbas said.

The 7-0 win was especially important since it was the Tar Heels’ last non-conference match before returning to ACC play for the remainder of the season.

“Every team in the conference is ranked in the top-47 in the country which says so much about how strong our conference is,” Kalbas said. “We just have to make sure we show up and compete in every match and just take it one match at a time.”

Especially dominating in the win were sophomores Suarez-Malaguti and Zoe De Bruycker, who finished first and second respectively and each posted perfect 6-0, 6-0 singles victories. Suarez-Malaguti was playing in the fourth spot while De Bruycker was playing at the one.

“I went on the court and said just have fun and move my feet,” Suarez-Malaguti said. “If I can move my feet well, my confidence always goes up.”

Suarez-Malaguti used her movement and slice to consistently set herself up for winners.

“This was a great win for us because it lets us see that we are capable of doing anything, even winning all the points,” she said.

De Bruycker, the 14th-ranked singles player in the country, was able to get into her opponent’s head early and force her into double faulting on numerous occasions.

“I feel like I was putting a lot of pressure on her, trying to play pretty aggressive and force her to make errors,” De Bruycker said.

De Bruycker said that a key for her going into this match was coming forward to net and focusing on her serve, and she executed that plan to perfection.

Senior Durisic was the only Tar Heel to lose a set, but rallied to win a third-set tiebreak for a 6-2, 3-6, (10-8) victory. Coach Kalbas was very animated when speaking to Durisic after her match.

“She was forcing the issue a little and was making some uncharacteristic mistakes,” Kalbas said. “I was trying to tell her to be more patient because when she is, she gets the opportunities to play the balls that she likes.”

Kalbas said that the victory was a good opportunity for the team to stay competitively sharp going into the rest of the ACC season.

Suarez-Malaguti said she is ready for the ACC season and is prepared for every team’s best shot with the Tar Heels up to number three in the rankings.

“We know what is coming for us,” she said. “Everyone is targeting us but we are targeting everyone else.”

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