“It’s really tough to beat a team like Duke twice in one season,” Coach Sam Paul said.
The Tar Heels didn’t do themselves any favors. After dropping the doubles point, UNC needed to win four of its six singles matches to move on.
Despite their slow start, the Tar Heels battled back winning four of the first six sets in singles play. What looked to be too daunting a challenge turned into an epic four-hour battle between the two teams.
As the game neared the end, all eyes turned to Court Four, where sophomore Jack Murray and Duke’s Chris Mengel were going shot for shot with the game on the line. In a final surge, Murray clinched the final set 7-5, giving UNC the 4-3 victory.
“It was a great feeling,” Murray said, “But my teammates worked so hard to put us in that position, and I just happened to be the last match on.”
UNC and Virginia (22-3) would clash in the semi-final round Sunday morning, but after it began raining, the match was moved to Duke’s Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.
“We’ve played Virginia indoors both times this year,” Paul said, “and I really wanted to play them outdoors to be completely honest.”
Paul wouldn’t get that chance and as play resumed, Virginia looked to keep momentum going, having already captured the doubles point before the delay.
The Cavaliers did just that, winning five of six opening sets.
When the match was finally under way, another delay hit, or rather dripped on, the two teams.
Water began leaking from the roof of the Indoor Center, forcing Brayden Schnur and Brett Clark’s matches to be delayed.
“It was definitely one of the weirdest game delays I've ever seen,” Clark said.
The leaks would prove inconsequential, as Virginia powered its way to three two-set wins to bring the game, and the Tar Heels' ACC championship hopes, to a halt.
And as both teams look to the NCAA Tournament, they’ll make sure to bring their umbrellas.