The North Carolina women’s tennis team has risen to No. 3 in the national collegiate rankings with a 22-3 overall mark and an 11-1 record in ACC action.
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The Tar Heels owe a lot of their success to freshman standout Jamie Loeb, now ranked the No. 1 singles player in the nation.
The Carolina women are serving up a storm these days. Last weekend, the Tar Heels easily dismissed league rival Maryland 6-1 to send the seniors out with a bang on Senior Day in Chapel Hill.
But it’s young freshman Loeb who has been stealing the spotlight this season. Loeb sports an incredible 43-2 singles record, including a perfect 11-0 mark in the ACC.
A tennis season can be somewhat of a grind, but Loeb says the team is really starting to find its form with each and every match thanks to some intelligent tactics.
“We’ve improved our unity in the team. I think we’ve found our identity and who we are. I think we’re putting that all together, taking care of our bodies and being smart,” Loeb says.
Loeb says the close-knit nature of the team really provides a great working environment for her to compete. Loeb says there is nothing like hearing her teammates voice their support while she’s battling it out in a match.
“We’re basically a family. We love each other so much. I think our closeness helps us on court as well. We’re out there pushing each other and cheering for each other after every point. It’s such a good feeling, especially for me, when I hear my teammates cheering for me,” Loeb says.
Earlier this week at The Rammys, the freshman sensation beat out a star-studded list of Carolina athletes including women’s basketball phenom Diamond DeShields, for the title of Breakthrough Athlete of the Year. Loeb says she was at a loss for words.
“It’s an honor for me to even be nominated for it. I was kind of shaking when I heard my name called,” Loeb says.
Loeb, though, is not alone near the top of the collegiate singles rankings. Her teammate, Hayley Carter, is ranked No. 6 nationally and regularly pairs with Loeb to form a dynamic doubles combo. Loeb says the two are good friends, but push each other on the court – keeping a competitive edge.
Coming into her rookie year, Loeb was once the hunter. Now, everybody is gunning for her. But she says she’s not letting any pressure get to her.
“I use it as motivation to keep getting better and not look at it as pressure and feeling like I have to stay at No. 1. I don’t have to do it. I just want it,” Loeb says.
Postseason play is rapidly approaching. Loeb says the team is practicing with an even greater intensity these days with an ACC, and possibly even national title on the line.
“We’re practicing with a purpose. We know what we want to get done and what we need to improve on,” Loeb says.
But before the ACC Championship, the Tar Heels hit the road for a Southern swing. A Thursday afternoon meeting with Georgia Tech in Atlanta will be followed by a Saturday showdown with Clemson in South Carolina.