Morra and Jones led the Fighting Irish 5-4 and needed one more point to win. All eyes were on Court Two. Duo Sara Daavettila and Alle Sanford stood on Court Three while the rest of the team lined up on Court One. The two groups started yelling the Tar Heel chant back and forth, the audience echoing.
It was enough to give Morra and Jones the final push to win, 6-4, securing the 16th doubles point win in a row for UNC.
The No. 1 North Carolina women’s tennis team (15-1, 3-0) overwhelmed Notre Dame (8-4, 2-2) with a 6-1 victory on Friday afternoon, maintaining its unblemished ACC and doubles record, thanks to first-year Morra and junior Jones.
“That team was on fire,” head coach Brian Kalbas said, referring to Notre Dame doubles team Cameron Corse and Bess Waldram. “I mean I think we were a little gun shy with how strong they were playing and how athletic they were, and how well they were volleying because we normally bother people with our pace and our variety of shots, but they weren’t bothered by it so we had to do a little bit of unconventional stuff.”
The Tar Heels carried the same energy into singles, where five out of the six players are nationally ranked. Three are in the top six, another ranked No. 27, and lastly, one holds at No. 122. Even with 11 matches left in regular season play, it’s hard for fans not to take note of the star-studded lineup. However, for the team, it’s just another number.
“It just shows we’re a great team who’s working really hard,” Jones said. “We don’t take any match for granted, which is great. We always have a target on our back, but I think we handle it well.”
UNC tends to forget about the points and focus on the next play, which is the mentality that two players specifically brought into singles. No. 27 Morra and No. 2 Jones came off a long, grueling doubles match and bounced straight into singles. For Morra, she had a more difficult challenge ahead. She faced the same opponent as doubles – Waldram.
“I try not to think about it too much,” Morra said. “Just take it as another match and go from there point by point.”
Focusing on the moment is something that she and Jones have in common, which only helps their chemistry as doubles partners. The duo mirror each other, even in terms of singles scores. They competed in sync, one notching a point after the other. They both finished the first set within a minute of each other with a score of 6-1.
It continued throughout the second set until the fourth point. Even with the score difference in the end, they finished within five minutes of each other.
Jones has stepped up over her three seasons, slowly climbing her way to the top as the No. 2 player in the nation. She’s scrappy in her play and has strong endurance. The junior is notorious for how long her matches will last.
Against Notre Dame, her true play and commitment to the game shined through the win. During her final plays, Jones lunged back and forth between the two edges of the court. Her racket would hit the ground, echoing throughout Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, as she extended her arm to reach the ball.
“She’s just so mature,” Kalbas said. “She’s very professional. Every match, every practice, she comes ready to get better … She’s such a leader on the court.”
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