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NCAA women’s tennis championships: Tar Heels fall 4-3 to UCLA

ATHENS, Ga. North Carolina, appearing in its first NCAA women’s tennis final, fell just short Tuesday, losing 4-3 to UCLA.

Kyle McPhillips, 20, a sophomore who has played in all four junior Grand Slam events, beat UNC’s Caroline Price 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the last singles match, helping UCLA win its second women’s title. It also won in 2008.

McPhillips’ No. 3 singles victory came after teammate Robin Anderson, the tournament’s second seed, beat top-seeded Tar Heels freshman Jamie Loeb 6-2, 6-2 in No. 1 singles.

Anderson, a junior, beat Loeb for the first time in three tries after losing to her in the finals of the Riviera/ITA All-America championships and the USTA/ITA indoors.

“I tried really hard not to show it, but I was really, really nervous at the end of the first set when I thought she could’ve been coming back,” Anderson said. “I just fought really hard to pull out that win.”

Hayley Carter (No. 2 singles), Kate Vialle (No. 5 singles) and Tessa Lyons (No. 6) won for UNC.

Tar Heels coach Brian Kalbas said it was clear that Anderson had a better approach than Loeb, who dropped to 50-3. Loeb had won 25 straight matches.

“It’s really tough to beat someone that good three times in a row,” Kalbas said. “Robin played really, really well. She didn’t make unforced errors, and I don’t think Jaime played her best, but you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Robin.”

After winning her 13th straight match and ending her freshman season with a 47-6 record, Carter began looking ahead to next season.

She believes the Tar Heels won’t be satisfied with finishing second.

“Hopefully we’ll get a national championship,” Carter said. “I’m going to work really hard this summer and see where things take us.”

Bruins coach Stella Sampras Webster was delighted to earn a championship at Dan Magill Tennis Complex after losing the 2004, 2007 and 2012 finals at the University of Georgia.

“When we did lose, I think that we lost to teams that were better than us,” she said. “I think the Georgia Tech one got away from us a little bit, but the other ones against Stanford and Florida – they were the better teams.”

All the other singles matches were completed when McPhillips and Price battled through a final game that included four match points and five break points saved by McPhillips.

When Price’s last volley sailed deep, the Bruins immediately crowded McPhillips to set off a celebration.

“I tried not to get nervous,” McPhillips said. “I reminded myself I was up 5-3, but I really tried to focus and stay intense every single point and not let it bother me when I lost a few match points.”

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