After a dominating victory to start the weekend, the No. 1 North Carolina women’s tennis team dropped its first match since Feb. 18 on Saturday — just its second loss of the season.
The team’s fate in both matches hinged on its ability to win the doubles point to start the match.
Despite a strong 7-0 win against Virginia Tech on Friday, UNC suffered a 4-3 loss to Virginia only a day later.
The Tar Heels came out focused and aggressive against the Hokies. They swept all three doubles matches for the first point before winning all six singles matches in straight sets for a perfect 7-0 victory.
Senior Zoe De Bruycker said the sweep of the doubles matches is what gave UNC confidence going into singles.
“I think we did really well in doubles (Friday),” De Bruycker said. “And getting the doubles point on the board really helped us.”
UNC took the momentum it gained by grabbing that first point and ran with it.
All six Tar Heels in the singles lineup dominated their opponents, leading to a victory in which the team didn’t drop a set all day.
“We played really well (Friday), we stayed focused, and I like the way we executed,” coach Brian Kalbas said of his team’s performance against Virginia Tech.
But that execution didn’t carry over into UNC’s 4-3 loss to the Cavaliers on Saturday.
The team’s second match of the weekend started out differently from its first. UNC won only one doubles match and lost the first point of the day for just the fourth time this year.
Sophomore Caroline Price said the loss could be blamed on dropping the doubles point.
“I think we need to get that point on the board, because then it takes pressure off all the singles,” Price said.
While the Tar Heels looked poised for a comeback in singles after winning the first set in four of the six matches, the Cavaliers managed to slow them down and jump out to a 3-1 lead.
Although UNC rallied late to tie the match at 3-3, Virginia took the final point in the third set of the match between UVa.’s Erin Vierra and UNC’s Kate Vialle, clinching the 4-3 win against the Tar Heels.
Kalbas said UNC wasn’t able to get ahead of the Cavaliers because of over-confidence from the team’s strong showing on Friday as well as a distinct lack of a “killer instinct.”
“Because we played so well (Friday) and it was easy, we came into (Saturday) without the right mindset that it was going to be a tough, competitive battle,” Kalbas said. “We allowed them to believe that they could win, and they took that and executed and did a really good job.”
But, he said, the Tar Heels are resilient and they will bounce back from this loss even stronger.
Price said the Tar Heels would use this match as a lesson going forward.
“We can always learn from this stuff, so we’ll continue to work hard and keep fighting,” Price said. “I’m proud of my team. (Virginia) just played better today.”
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