It’s good to be home.
After almost three weeks of road matches, including a trip to Puerto Rico during spring break, that’s exactly how the No. 11 North Carolina women’s tennis team felt. That home-court advantage showed Wednesday with a convincing 6-1 victory against N.C. State.
“It was good to be back home in our environment and have our fans cheering for us,” senior Shinann Featherston said of the team’s one-match stint on their home court.
With this win, the Tar Heels (12-4, 2-0 ACC) continued their strong play as the ACC season really gets going.
“We definitely live at RDU,” Lauren McHale joked. “So it’s nice to be back at home with our fans. It’s definitely a lot more fun and supportive.”
Now that they’re back in Chapel Hill, at least for a little while, the Tar Heels were able to show their fans what they’re capable of in person.
UNC started off in good form by sweeping all three doubles matches for the doubles point.
But then things started to look a little shaky once the singles matches got under way.
“Give (N.C. State) a lot of credit in singles,” coach Brian Kalbas said. “They came out with a lot of energy and fight and won a few of the first sets, and some of the other first sets were close.”
McHale and Zoe De Bruycker both fell in their first sets. De Bruycker lost again in the second set, giving the Wolfpack its only point of the match, while McHale managed to hang on and win 1-6, 7-5, 1-0 (6).
McHale said she was trying to force too much in the first set, and once she calmed down she was able to finish the match out with a victory.
“In the second and third set, I wasn’t going for too much right away,” McHale said of her come-from-behind victory. “ I was grinding it out more and being patient.”
Featherston also felt that she was forcing things and thought that the Tar Heels’ rocky start in singles was due, in part, to underestimating their opponent
“I think we started off a little slow in singles because we didn’t realize how pumped N.C. State was, but that’s something we’ll learn from today,” the senior said.
“The ACC is a really strong conference and we need to be ready for anyone, even if they’re not ranked high. We just need to come out as motivated to play anyone.”
But despite the slow start and the one loss in De Bruycker’s singles match, the Tar Heels were able to find their footing and dominate the rest of the match to get the win.
Kalbas believes that UNC can use this match as a lesson for matches to come and a stepping-stone for the rest of the season.
“Every match in the ACC is tough,” he said. “Everyone’s been ranked this year, so it’s going to be a challenge for us to stay at a high level throughout the whole season. Hopefully we can use this as momentum going into this weekend.”
Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.