Before their bout with the fourth-seeded duo of Sophie Grabinski and Sanaz Marand Monday in the ITA Southeast Regional final in Chapel Hill, junior Melissa Mang and sophomore Amanda Granson just told each other to focus on their game. No pressure.
They knew, however, that in the enemy territory of UNC's Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, there was nothing but pressure. Defeat the pair of Tar Heels and they would move on to next week's National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
If Mang and Granson were feeling any nerves before the match, they didn't show it, taking down their opponents with relative ease, 8-3.
"We were both really fired up for it," Mang said. "We knew it was a big opportunity.... We had to beat them. We played really well and were definitely on top of our game."
Mang and Granson's finals victory was more impressive considering the tandem's quick turnaround from their morning session, where they downed the No. 2 doubles pair in the nation, Clemson's Ani Mijacika and Federica Van Adrichem, 8-4.
Although the fall season usually is a time for the players to focus on their individual games, the pair has been able to improve together, Mang said. The Blue Devils are making strides as a team, as well. Duke freshmen Ellah Nze and Reka Zsilinszka face off against each other for the singles title at a time to be announced later this week.
"One of our biggest goals this fall was to re-establish a winning and supportive culture in our program," head coach Jamie Ashworth said. "And we are definitely moving in that direction."
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.