College tennis matches aren’t quiet, they’re loud.
They’re filled with screams from the players and cheers from the crowd, and when the No. 2 North Carolina (24-0, 12-0 ACC) women’s tennis team beat No. 12 Virginia (15-5, 8-3 ACC) 4-3 in Friday's rivalry matches, there was even yelling between players on the court and fans on the bleachers.
But it wasn’t coming from UNC’s Hayley Carter, it was coming from her opponent, No. 37 Danielle Collins.
Collins matched up with No. 14 Carter on Court 2 after trailing to her and Whitney Kay in doubles 6-3 when the point was decided. During the heated second set in singles, Collins, the 2014 NCAA individual champion, fought with the crowd after losing a tiebreaker to Carter in the first set. When the crowd called her out for poor sportsmanship, the junior screamed back and later looked for confirmation that her strong plays didn't go unnoticed. When the crowd booed her, she continued to yell back.
But Carter never missed a beat, even when those around her laughed at the spectacle.
“(Collins) definitely brings the intensity,” Carter said. “But honestly, ultimate respect to her, I’ve played many battles against her in the past. She’s obviously a great player, it was another epic battle and hopefully there will be many more to come with her.”
Carter’s battle wasn’t easy. After an attempted backhand overhead in the second set, she said she sprained a ligament in her elbow and struggled through the pain. Collins didn’t take it easy on the injured sophomore and made her run for difficult shots followed my short hits over the net. Collins won the second set 6-3. With her arm taped up, Carter managed to hold on in the third before losing the set 6-4, and ultimately the match 7-6, 3-6, 4-6.
Rivalries aren’t always between teams, sometimes they’re between players like Carter and Collins. And like Carter, No. 6 Jamie Loeb understands what it’s like to lose to a major rival. The New York native has played against No. 2 Julia Elbaba since they were preteens, and lost to her at the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in November.
“I learned a lot from that match and I came out here (Friday) and really wanted to get revenge and play well and come out with a win,” she said.
Loeb's revenge didn’t take long, she swept her childhood rival winning 6-3, 6-1 on Court 1 and beat her for the third time this season.
“We both know each other really well,” Loeb said. “She knows my game well and I know hers so it was pretty even playing field, but I think I came out really well especially in doubles, I think that started it and singles I just kept it up and didn’t let down at all.”
But now Loeb and Carter are preparing to face their school’s main rival, Duke. And though Carter suffered an injury, she said she hopes she will be able to play with her undefeated team Wednesday.
The duo's coach, Brian Kalbas, knows what's on the line. And this time, it won't just be Carter and Loeb going up against major rivals.
"It's a great opportunity," he said. "We lost to those guys three times last year."
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