It wouldn’t be the only time on the day Akkerman found herself out front leading her teammates, and making it easier on them.
In her singles match, the senior playing on Court Six dropped just one game over the course of play, winning 6-0, 6-1. She finished more than a dozen minutes before the match was officially clinched. And in her waning UNC career, she was more than happy to be a big part of the win.
“I was having a great time," she said. "(I was) just happy to be out there and just enjoying every second I have left on these courts before I head out of here.”
"I don’t have a lot of moments like these left, so I just want to embrace every one of them.”
After closing out her match, Akkerman had plenty of time to enjoy watching the play of her teammates. On Court Four, Aney finished next, overpowering the player on the other end of the court, 6-2, 6-1. Next to her on Court Five, Chloe Oullet-Pizer brought down the final blow, 6-3, 6-0, to secure the win.
UNC’s top three singles players, Jones, Alle Sanford and Graham, didn’t even have to finish their matches — or even come close, for that matter. It was an efficient way to save some energy for their next match on Saturday.
“The bottom of the lineup in the past has been a real strength of ours,” Kalbas said. “So for us to get wins at four, five and six was good for us.”
Akkerman said extra rest and time off the court can make a huge difference in the long run. In the short term, it will mean the team is better prepared to take on their Mississippi State about 24 hours later.
“It helps a lot more than you’d think just to have less time out on the courts,” Akkerman said. “It’s a lot hotter on the courts than it is just like sitting on the grass, so getting off, getting into the ice baths quicker, that’s going to really help us a lot.”
On Saturday at 3 p.m., the Tar Heels will be back in action to face the Bulldogs for a chance to move on to the Round of 16. The winner will move on to Winston-Salem to continue playing next week.
But Kalbas isn’t letting anyone look too far ahead yet. The team still has work to do before it can set its eyes on that horizon up ahead.
“We’re taking it one match at a time, not getting ahead of ourselves,” he said. “As I told the team, nothing is given to us. All these teams here in the NCAAs want to succeed, they want to move on, so the motivation is high for everybody.”
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