CHAPEL HILL --- For four days, Kitty Harrison and Brian Kalbas stood together as the winningest coaches in the history of North Carolina women's tennis. And on Wednesday they stood together again as Harrison presented Kalbas with a cake marking his ascension to sole possession of the record. It was - and will continue to be - a fitting pairing of two of the classiest people ever to represent UNC athletics.
Harrison led the Carolina women's tennis program for 22 years, winning four ACC titles and earning enshrinement in the N.C. Tennis Hall of Fame among her many accomplishments. Harrison's teams won 351 duals from 1976 until her retirement in 1998, during which time she helped guide the program into the modern era of women's intercollegiate athletics. She coached seven members of the ACC's 50th Anniversary team, including Cinda Gurney, an NCAA finalist and UNC's first women's tennis All-American.
Despite being nearly two decades removed from her last season as head coach, Harrison is still a consistent presence at Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. Her name graces both UNC's fall tournament and its annual most valuable player award.
"To be able to become the women's tennis coach at UNC was such an honor and a privilege," Harrison told the NCTHOF of her time at Carolina. "To carry that through and to be a part of that pioneering experience was incredible for me."
Kalbas arrived in Chapel Hill in 2003 and took Carolina to heights even he couldn't have imagined at the time. The architect of a nationally respected William & Mary program that advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals in both 1997 and 1998, Kalbas was hired by former Director of Athletics Dick Baddour to stabilize a program that had lost two head coaches in three years.
While his first several years in charge were tremendously successful - four straight 20-win campaigns, a trip to the NCAA quarters in 2005, and Sara Anundsen and Jenna Long's national doubles title in 2007 - Kalbas and the Tar Heels have established themselves as a dominant force in women's tennis over the last eight seasons.
Carolina has lost just seven ACC regular season duals since 2010, a stretch that includes undefeated runs in 2010, 2015 and 2016. Nationally, the Tar Heels have won two ITA National Indoor titles to go with trips to the NCAA final in 2014 and the NCAA semis in 2010. In Hayley Carter and Jamie Loeb, Kalbas has coached two of the most highly decorated players in ACC history.
Never one to seek out attention for himself, Kalbas heaped praise on Harrison after Wednesday's 5-2 win over Duke.
“When I was the coach at William & Mary, I had so much admiration and fondness for Kitty,” Kalbas said. "To follow her in the coaching realm and pass her is something that is amazing because of how amazing she is...she's an icon here and we love her so much. She's meant so much to this program and it's truly an honor for me."
And on a record-setting day in Chapel Hill, two Carolina women's tennis icons stood together to celebrate yet another of the more than 700 wins between them.
Written by Bobby Hundley, North Carolina Athletic Communications