“We had a really good class of freshmen come in,” Graham said. “It’s so hard for a coach to pick who should be playing and who can’t play because everything is so solid.”
These first-years include Kacie Harvey, Anika Yarlagadda and Elizabeth Scotty, the latter of whom joined the team at the start of the spring semester.
Harvey was the only one of the trio to play two singles matches, winning both handily. This included a 6-0, 6-0 shutout during the match against Charleston Southern. Yarlagadda and Harvey also won their singles matches by large margins and got their team points in doubles play.
They join a talented group of veterans, led by Graham and Daavettila, who are coming off of fantastic fall seasons. Graham made the final of the ITA All-Americans tournament, played for Team USA at the international level and participated in the BNP Paribas International Collegiate Team and the 2019 Pan-Am Games. Daavettila won the ITA Fall National Championship singles title, a run that included a victory over last year’s NCAA Singles Champion Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami. She was also given the ITA Sportsmanship Award.
Just like Graham, Daavettila is focused on the success of her team, sharing similar enthusiasm.
“It is so great to have them on the team,” she said. “They each bring their own unique qualities to make our team whole and complete our family.”
Graham, Daavettila, and fellow senior Makenna Jones have been willing to act as mentors to the first- and second-year players. Head coach Brian Kalbas has taken notice of this, praising them for their selflessness.
“They’re three amazing tennis players, but they’re even better people,” Kalbas said. “We got great senior leadership with three great captains. All three of them came out and demonstrated how the culture of our program is supposed to be from the very beginning.”
After reaching the NCAA Tournament semifinals last season, the Tar Heels come into this year with high expectations. Their overall depth will prove to be a deciding factor in whether they can reach their ultimate goal of winning the NCAA Tournament.
They took steps towards that goal on Saturday and the team-first mentality displayed by the seniors capped off a great start to the season.
“There wasn’t anything negative," Kalbas said. "Everything was a positive."
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