The North Carolina women’s tennis team might be young this year, but after competing with the best in the nation, the team seems prepared to start the upcoming spring season off strong.
The No. 3 Tar Heels spent the holiday weekend in Las Vegas in the company of five of the other top 10 teams in the country at the Freeman Memorial Women’s Tennis Championship — a competition that coach Brian Kalbas said might have been “the toughest individual tournament (the team) has played all year, and maybe ever”.
“Overall, we didn’t have everyone there, but the girls who played got some good matches in and got ready for our season,” he said. “Everybody came away with some positives, so we’re excited now to start our season with dual matches.”
None of the Tar Heels advanced past the quarterfinals in singles or doubles play , but Kalbas highlighted several performances that he was pleased with from the five girls that went to the tournament.
Freshman Hayley Carter, ranked No. 5 in the country in singles, won both of her matches Friday in straight sets before getting injured and sitting out the rest of the tournament with concussion-like symptoms .
“I’ve been working really hard this offseason to get ready for the spring season, and I think it showed in my first two matches,” Carter said. “So it’s a little unlucky that I had to pull out, but I’m hoping to get healthy for the season.”
Sophomore Ashley Dai and senior Tessa Lyons both gave performances that also received praise from Kalbas.
“I didn’t think I played necessarily the best,” Lyons said about her weekend. “But I was just trying to use the whole weekend as a starting point for the season and getting back into match play.”
She lost her singles match in round one against a Stanford player who would go on to win the tournament’s singles final, but she showed strength and resiliency in her match on Sunday.