In the spring, the North Carolina women’s tennis team only gave up the doubles point five times. For head coach Brian Kalbas, that was five times too many.
During a team match, winning the doubles point means not only taking the early lead but also possessing momentum before heading into a long singles battle. For these reasons, the Tar Heels have placed an emphasis on doubles success this season.
It’s paying off.
At the ITA All-American Championships earlier this month, doubles pair sophomore Reese Brantmeier and senior Elizabeth Scotty, as well as senior Fiona Crawley and junior Carson Tanguilig, both made it to the quarterfinals before falling in their respective matches. This summer, both pairs met head-to-head in the NCAA doubles championship. While Crawley and Tanguilig clinched the match in a tie-breaker set, the Tar Heels’ overall performance in doubles feels stronger than ever after the all-blue final and early fall season tournaments.
But despite these accolades, Kalbas is not fully satisfied.
“All-Americans we obviously would have liked to have done better but they did extremely well,” Kalbas said. “Three doubles teams in the main draw, two get to the quarters. So it’s really one of the best tournaments in the fall. We’re still a work in progress in doubles. We can get a lot better. But I think it shows we’ve put an emphasis on it and I think it’s paid off so far.”
For a team that only lost the doubles point a handful of times, how much better can the Tar Heels really get?
To Kalbas, it’s all about fine-tuning.
“The quantity of doubles drills we do has definitely gone up,” Brantmeier said. “We always focus a lot on doubles but being super intentional and making sure we’re adding it in every practice.”