The North Carolina women’s tennis team took down Elon and Appalachian State on Tuesday in a doubleheader matchup at the Cone-Kenfield Center, avenging a 4-2 loss against No. 1 Florida the previous week.
The No. 2 Tar Heels (10-1) dominated Elon in doubles play with relatively few issues. Senior Hayley Carter and sophomore Jessie Aney gained an early advantage on the Phoenix duo of first-year Alex Koniaev and sophomore Maria Paraja and claimed an easy 6-0 victory in the first doubles match. Junior Cassandra Vazquez and first-year Alexa Graham also scored a 6-2 victory, allowing the Tar Heels to take a 1-0 lead against the Phoenix. North Carolina then swept Elon in singles play, with only one match going to a third set.
Doubles play also started well for the Tar Heels against Appalachian State. Vazquez and Graham nearly claimed a shutout against seniors Megan Mullen and Gabrielle Wreder in a 6-1 win, and a 5-2 victory by first-year Makenna Jones and junior Maggie Kane gave the Tar Heels another 1-0 start going into singles competition — where UNC faced little adversity in a 6-1 victory
Who stood out?
Carter and Aney were ranked second in the country in doubles competition prior to the matchup, and their performance against the duos of Elon and Appalachian State reflected this ranking. Both of them displayed great chemistry with one another, and each put on strong performances in singles competition. Graham quietly had a stellar day on the court, as she was able to cruise to an easy victory in every match in both singles and doubles competition.
When was it decided?
Elon didn't get the turnaround it was hoping for in singles competition, as all six players for the Tar Heels — with the exception of Vazquez — won in straight sets. Aney and Jones each recorded a shutout in one of their sets, and the dominance displayed by UNC against Elon gave the team confidence entering its match against Appalachian State.
Against the Mountaineers, Graham recorded two consecutive shutouts while a shutout by Aney in the second set of her match helped put the Tar Heels up 3-0. A straight-sets victory by Carter gave the Tar Heels the four points they needed to seal the victory.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels faced many tough opponents to open the season, which included narrow victories over California and Ohio State, but the loss against Florida was the first one of the season. The loss didn't seem to bother the team, as both Elon and Appalachian State couldn't keep up with the fast pace of the Tar Heels.
Head coach Brian Kalbas praised the performance of both opponents, but he was also proud of how his team was able to step up after the loss. Kalbas believes the team has reclaimed its competitive edge in time for a tougher schedule down the road.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels return to action on Saturday when they face off against South Carolina in Columbia at 11 a.m. The matchup is the final one before conference play begins, so North Carolina will look to build upon the momentum established against Elon and Appalachian State before the first ACC match against N.C. State.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.