ORLANDO, Fla. – In the NCAA Quarterfinals against No. 8 Texas, junior Fiona Crawley said the words "gritty, not pretty" rallied her and the rest of the No. 1 North Carolina women’s tennis team to overcome another doubles point loss.
On Wednesday, the Tar Heels scraped by the two-time defending champions with a 4-2 victory behind another dominant singles performance. When the two teams faced each other in the NCAA Tournament Semifinals last year, UNC lost.
For the second consecutive match, North Carolina dropped the doubles point and stepped up to supply the singles victories needed to clinch.
“Honestly, I feel like losing the doubles point isn't something that's new,” Crawley said. “We've lost doubles points in the past, and that almost fires us up more.”
Head coach Brian Kalbas said that when the Tar Heels play talented teams like Texas, the singles victories are usually split evenly, 3-3. However, when UNC does not secure the doubles point, splitting is not an option, and that is the source of motivation the team pulls from to “get gritty.”
For Crawley, getting gritty meant fighting back against a major deficit in the second set of her singles match and refusing to allow a third set tie-breaker.
The North Carolina junior controlled the entirety of the first set and only gave up one game, forcing Texas junior Charlotte Chavatipon to chase down deep returns in opposite corners of the court. But, the second half of her match proved to be a tougher test.
Mistakes and rogue shots stunted Crawley’s game and Chavatipon quickly gained the upper hand and a three-game lead. The Longhorn junior only needed one more game point to force a third set tiebreaker. Crawley refused to quit.
“It’s a joke on my team that I love a dog fight,” Crawley said.