For the first time all season, the North Carolina women’s tennis team fell short.
“It wasn’t really us,” coach Brian Kalbas said.
After coasting by Wake Forest and Virginia with 4-0 wins, the Tar Heels ultimately lost to N.C. State, 1-4, in the ACC tournament championship game on Sunday – marking the Wolfpack’s first ACC tournament title in program history.
“(N.C. State) seemed like they were out there to accomplish something they hadn't accomplished before,” Kalbas said. “We were kind of out there trying to protect something that we've accomplished before.”
In the semifinals on Saturday, it appeared like the path for the conference tournament trophy was in view as the Tar Heels overcame Virginia’s aggressive doubles pairs and clinched the point. Kalbas said it was a performance that made him believe the North Carolina doubles teams were competing hard.
Considering the team's lackluster doubles performance the last time they played the Cavaliers, it seemed like Tar Heels were gelling at the right time.
“We lost a doubles point (against UVA in February), and I feel like that definitely motivated us more,” junior Fiona Crawley said. “But, it still is in the back of your mind like, ‘Oh God, the last time we played this team, they literally wrecked us.’”
The Tar Heels continued to excel in singles play against Virginia, making seemingly-impossible shots that allowed Crawley, senior Elizabeth Scotty and sophomore Carson Tanguilig to clinch the match victory.
But on Sunday, when UNC faced N.C. State for the second time this year, the Wolfpack was a different team. The Tar Heels earned a decisive 7-0 victory on April 6, when the Wolfpack played without their top singles player — No. 12 first-year Diana Shnaider.