“I lost the national championship for us.”
That devastating defeat was over 10 month ago — and UNC hasn’t lost since.
The No. 2 Tar Heels have cruised to a 23-0 record thus far, punctuating an undefeated indoors season with an ITA National Indoor Championship — earning Price Most Outstanding Player honors and netting the team the top spot in the polls for six straight weeks.
But the team’s lone senior wants more.
“We aren’t satisfied,” said Price, the No. 18 player in the nation. “Yeah, we won national indoors, and we (were) ranked No. 1, but we think that we can still improve and get better.”
“There’s still so much more we want to prove.”
The Tar Heels return five of six singles starters — including sophomores Jamie Loeb and Hayley Carter, ranked 9th and 17th nationally — from a team that won a school-record 29 matches before the title loss.
And with the rest of the team’s matches being played outdoors, where the Tar Heels naturally thrive, UNC could be looking at another record-breaking season.
“We’re motivated and excited to take this one step further,” Coach Brian Kalbas said.
“There’s nine girls on this team, and they’re all going to need to contribute to get to where we want to be.”
But for the six players on the roster a year ago, the bitter taste of defeat can only be squelched with a championship victory.
“We’re not done this year,” said junior Whitney Kay. “We’re not going to stop with the Indoor win. We want to win an ACC title and then an NCAA title.”
Kalbas knows that a high win total means nothing without hardware to accompany it.
“Last year we had a really strong finish to the year, but we didn’t really accomplish anything,” Kalbas said. “We didn’t win an ACC Tournament title; we tied with three other teams for the regular-season; we didn’t win an indoor title; we didn’t win a national title.”
“This team is very hungry for more opportunities to prove themselves.”
For Price, the chance to redeem herself from her agonizing defeat that ended the 2013-14 season motivates her every time she steps onto the court. The Tar Heels will next play on Friday against Virginia.
“I’m going to go for it because I’ve already lost it once,” she said. “(This is) my last year, so I just don’t want to have any regrets.”