The No. 1 North Carolina women’s tennis team is beginning the conference season in dominating fashion.
After securing a 7-0 victory against Wake Forest in February to open ACC play, the Tar Heels moved to 2-0 in the conference on Thursday with another win, this time beating No. 40 N.C. State in Raleigh, 4-3.
“N.C. State played very well, and they were very confident. The environment was very challenging for us, but our team responded extremely well,” coach Brian Kalbas said.
The Tar Heels started off strong with an 8-4 win from the doubles team of Ashley Dai and Zoe De Bruycker in the first of three doubles matches.
Though a Wolfpack win in the second doubles match made it seem as though the momentum was shifting away from the Tar Heels, the UNC duo of Whitney Kay and Caroline Price pulled out the final doubles match to give the Tar Heels the doubles point.
“I was happy to help the team out and get that first point on the board because if we hadn’t gotten that, we might have a different result right now,” Price said.
Price is one of five Tar Heels still undefeated in singles play this season.
Though she was delayed in starting her singles match because N.C. State only has four indoor courts, Price dominated her opponent in a 6-0, 6-1 victory to keep her unbeaten streak intact.
“Last year, I was not a dependable player. I was very up and down,” Price said. “So that was one of my goals this year — I wanted to be that teammate that no matter who we play, my team could depend on me. It feels good to know I’m accomplishing that goal so far this season.”
Kalbas said Price’s strong singles play and reliability have been great assets to the team, and knowing the Tar Heels can count on her in a tough match gives them confidence.
“She’s been such a great leader on the court this season — staying focused and playing aggressive tennis,” Kalbas said. “It gives us so much confidence that we can win and takes a lot of pressure off some of the other players.”
The Wolfpack tried to rally for the upset late in the match by forcing De Bruycker, Kay and Dai into third set tiebreakers.
Although De Bruycker and Dai both ended with losses, Kay stayed strong, defeating the Wolfpack’s Rachael James-Baker 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 to secure the win for the Tar Heels.
Kalbas said a tough road win will benefit the Tar Heels going into their last nonconference match of the season against Northwestern, a team that has beaten North Carolina two years in a row.
“It’s always tough to play up there,” Kalbas said. “But I think the fact that we played in such a difficult environment today against a very aggressive opponent will give us some confidence.”
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