CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Elon University women’s tennis team opened its spring season on Friday, as the Phoenix fell 5-2 against the No. 2 University of North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels, who have won the last three Intercollegiate Tennis Association indoor team championships, entered the match on a 54-match home winning streak, with their last loss at their indoor facility coming in 2018. 

Despite North Carolina’s recent dominance on indoor courts, Elon battled hard throughout the match, improving on last season’s 7-0 season opening loss against the Tar Heels, in which no Phoenix player won a set in a doubles or singles contest.

Playing in the No. 1 position, senior Sibel Tanik won the opening set 7-5 against North Carolina’s Fiona Crawley, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the ITA’s singles rankings. Crawley entered the day with a 53-2 career record in dual singles matches. Up 6-5 in the set, Tanik trailed 15-40 in the 12th game before winning the next three points to secure the set victory. Crawley rallied back to win the second 6-3 before clinching the match with a 10-5 victory in the deciding tiebreak. 

Senior Julie Ball picked up Elon’s first singles victory of the season with a comfortable 6-1, 6-1 win in the No. 5 spot, while Olivia Archer won a back-and-forth encounter in the No. 6 spot to round out Elon’s singles wins. 

All four of Elon’s singles losses came against players ranked in the top 60 of the ITA singles rankings.

"This was a great way to start off our spring season," head coach Elizabeth Anderson said. "It was a tremendous effort against a great North Carolina team. We had a lot of competitive matches. I'm proud of Julie and Olivia for winning their singles matches and Sibel for winning the first set against the top ranked singles player in the country."

Elon continues its four-match road trip to begin its season with a match against Campbell University on Jan. 20 at 1 p.m.