On Saturday, the No. 2 North Carolina women’s tennis team secured a spot in the 2023 ITA National Indoor Championships after defeating the Charlotte 49ers in the Kickoff Weekend championship match.
The duo of first-year Reese Brantmeier and senior Elizabeth Scotty played a key role in UNC’s 4-0 victory over the 49ers.
The pair combined to help UNC secure three out of the four team points. In doubles, the two gave the Tar Heels an early advantage with a 6-2 win.
“I was just so happy to be out there,” Brantmeier said. “I’m pretty new to this and this environment is so much different than anything I’ve been in before, so I’m just really enjoying it.”
As doubles partners, Scotty and Brantmeier’s chemistry is evident, from their compatible style on the court to the way they cheer for each other’s well-placed shots. Brantmeier said they are still getting adjusted to playing with each other, but competing alongside an experienced player like Scotty makes the learning experience more enjoyable.
Playing on court one, the two Tar Heels got off to a slow start against Charlotte's No. 21-ranked pair of senior Margaux Maquet and senior Lucia Quiterio, dropping the first game. However, head coach Brian Kalbas said once the team got used to their opponent’s aggressive serves, Scotty and Brantmeier were able to make purposeful returns.
After making this adjustment, the duo won the next six out of seven games to put UNC one step closer to winning the team doubles point.
“The more comfortable Scotty and I get playing together the better we’re playing,” Brantmeier said. “I just started playing these, so (I’m) getting adjusted to it.”
Scotty said she and Brantmeier are aware they are going to make mistakes because of their aggressive play style, but the two know when to start playing more disciplined.
She said the two dominate when they both move up to the net to volley because they can clog the middle of the court and put the ball away exactly where they want.
“(Brantmeier) is incredible,” she said. “She’s all over the net, (has) huge serves and big returns.”
Immediately after graduate student Abbey Forbes and junior Reilly Tran clinched the doubles point for UNC, the team split off to start their singles matches. Scotty said winning the doubles matches sets you up to succeed in singles, so it is incredibly important.
“It’s just a confidence booster, especially when we’re playing clinch,” she said. “It’s a race. Let’s get out there. Let’s get the wins on.”
Both Scotty and Brantmeier were successful in their singles match-ups, clinching two additional team points.
Last week, Brantmeier earned ACC Freshman of the Week and has yet to drop a singles set this season. She continued her dominating performance in Saturday’s singles match against Maquet, where she won 6-3, 6-1.
“(Maquet) was a very solid player, and I think right from the start she was committed to getting a lot of balls and making me work for it,” she said. “I just really found my rhythm.”
Scotty defeated Charlotte senior Kaavya Sawhney, 6-0, in the first set but faced a tougher battle in the second set. The score stayed within one or two game points for the first nine games. At that point, the score was 5-4, and Scotty increased her aggressive play style to force Sawhney to make costly mistakes. The UNC senior walked off the court with a 6-4 second set victory.
“(Scotty is) playing with a sense of belief and toughness,” Kalbas said. “She has an aggressive game, and I think she’s imposing her game on her opponents.”
UNC has won the Kickoff Weekend title every year that Scotty has competed, but this is Brantmeier's first. And for Kalbas, he said UNC has qualified for the indoor championships every year since he started coaching.
No matter how many times North Carolina clinches the weekend’s title, Kalbas said it "never gets old."
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