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Kalbas, doubles propel No. 2 UNC women's tennis to 4-0 win vs. Tulsa at ITA Kickoff

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UNC junior Elizabeth Scotty and UNC freshman Lindsay Zink compete in a duos match against UNC Charlotte on at the Cone- Kenfield Tennis Center Indoor Courts oniFriday, Jan. 28, 2022. UNC beat UNC Charlotte 4-0.

“Relentless.” 

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."

The unity and teamwork involved with doubles play — as well as how the energy from that play fuels the rest of the competition — showed itself for the Tar Heels on Saturday. 

“It’s really cool to be able to problem solve together,” Tran said. “It feels like even when you’re playing singles, you’re playing doubles, just because you’re so close to your teammates.”

Kalbas’s overall coaching record at UNC is now 469-98, on top of six ACC Championship wins and five ITA National Team Indoor Championship titles.

Kalbas’ energy and the attitude that he has instilled in the team has led him to be one of the winningest coaches in ACC women’s tennis history as he continues into his thirtieth season as a college head coach.

Kalbas said he asks his team to play for a value, and he believes the values the Tar Heels keep in mind when they hit the courts has led them to many years of success.

“It’s been the best five years ever,” Sanford said.

But when Kalbas had to pick a value to best describe the team, there was really only one word he could use, one word that signifies the hunger that leads to that many years of winning:

“Competitiveness."

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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