To hear UNC women's tennis head coach Brian Kalbas tell it, that was the one word on his mind as his team won the ITA Kickoff Tournament on Saturday, securing a bid to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February.
The No. 2 Tar Heels showed up in a big way with a 4-0 win over a Tulsa team that had been undefeated heading into the matchup. With its sixth-straight win of the season, North Carolina once again notched an important victory, this time with a title bid on the line.
“We have a pretty young team and a lot of great players,” senior Alle Sanford said. “It’s the beginning of the season, and we’re building our identity.”
The identity of the Tar Heels was further reflected by Sanford and her doubles partner, sophomore Reilly Tran, as they helped the team earn the doubles point with a 6-0 win in their match.
“She’s like an older sister,” Tran said of Sanford. “We help each other out.”
Tran and Sanford’s shutout win did not stand alone as sophomore Fiona Crawley and junior Elizabeth Scotty — the No. 1 doubles team in the country — replicated the dominant performance with a 6-0 doubles win of their own. Overall, the Tar Heels only gave up one set between all three doubles matches.
Sanford credited her stout doubles performance not only to her chemistry with Tran, but also to the team as a whole. The team even showed some synchronization — as Sanford and Tran took a 3-0 lead in their match, so did Scotty and Crawley.
“Knowing that we have two other really great doubles teams playing next to us is also really nice to know,” Sanford said. “It’s a lot of energy bouncing off of each other."