Walking onto the court to face off against any opponent can be nerve-wracking, but the North Carolina women’s tennis team has a tactic to calm down early on in the match. The strategy is simple: always win the doubles point.
That doubles point proved instrumental in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Louisville, in which the No. 1 Tar Heels increased their doubles point record to a perfect 17-0 this season.
This isn’t just something that happened out of the blue for the Tar Heels (16-1, 4-0 ACC), but rather took months of practice and the development of good relationships between teammates.
When junior Makenna Jones and sophomore Alle Sanford took the court against the Cardinals, they had very rarely paired up for doubles before. Despite a lack of experience together, Jones and Sanford managed to secure a 6-0 win.
Jones said the team switches doubles partners frequently, and that it isn’t too much of an issue, because the group is very close. Sanford echoed this sentiment, and said she was more relaxed going into singles after helping win the doubles point for UNC.
“I think with college tennis, just getting the doubles point is such an advantage for winning matches," Sanford said. "We won every single one in national indoors, and it put us in pretty good positions going into singles. A lot of teams are really good, not only doubles players, but have a lot of strong singles, so any points we can get on the board is important.”
However, the Tar Heels weren’t always this strong in doubles. Jones said her first year wasn’t a great year for the team in doubles performances, but that the improvements were worth it.