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The Daily Tar Heel

Temperatures were high in Miami this weekend. Serena Williams battled to win her match against Simona Halep in the Miami Open, an opponent she faced last October at the year-end championships. And while Williams was hitting her way to the top, just miles away North Carolina senior Caroline Price was doing her best Williams impersonation — also fighting to outlast her opponent — after trailing early in the first set.

No. 18 Price faced 125th-ranked Lina Lileikite in a critical singles match on Court 3. But like Williams and Halep, this wasn’t the first time the two had met. The student-athletes played in the quarterfinals at the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship in February. Price beat Lileikite in straight sets that match, clutching a 6-3, 6-0 victory followed by an overall victory for the Tar Heels.

But Saturday’s match was different after Price, the team’s only senior, fell behind early. But the Georgia native gained momentum and won a tiebreaker to eventually clinch the singles point for UNC.

“(Caroline) faced adversity in the first and second set, and she handled it extremely well,” Coach Brian Kalbas said.

Price’s impact helped the No. 2 North Carolina women’s tennis team secure a 5-2 victory over the No. 16 Miami Hurricanes, this time on Miami’s turf outdoors.

Price wasn’t the only one whose effects were felt at the match Saturday. Hayley Carter, ranked No. 17 individually, left No. 36 Sinead Lohan in the dust with a 6-2, 6-1 win on Court 2, the best Kalbas said he has seen the sophomore play all year. Carter continued her winning streak with her doubles partner Whitney Kay, beating Miami’s No. 29 duo 8-4 on Court 1.

Kalbas deemed the win an important confidence booster for the team.

“For us to go into their environment and their weather — their team is so competitive and so tenacious, and they play with such emotion,” he said. “So for us going forward I think it can only help us and give us a lot of confidence.”

Confidence the team will need in the coming weeks. No. 9 sophomore Jamie Loeb, who beat sixth-ranked Stephanie Wagner 7-5, 6-1, overcame the heat and emotions in Miami.

“We haven’t been playing in really hot conditions,” she said. “Today was basically a challenge and a test for us, but overall we did really well. We were expecting them to be rowdy; they weren’t as rowdy as we thought.”

North Carolina didn’t have much time to celebrate after Saturday’s win, just enough for a meal and ride to the airport. Time is precious for the Tar Heels as they advance closer to their matches against Virginia and Duke, as well as the ACC and NCAA Championships. To date, the Tar Heels are still unbeaten, holding onto a 23-match winning streak.

“We’re in a difficult stretch of our season right now, with Virginia who won the ACC Tournament last year and Duke that beat us three times last year,” Kalbas said.

But now when the teams meet again, the Tar Heels will have some extra assurance by way of Miami.

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