The No. 3 North Carolina men’s tennis team advanced to its third-straight Elite Eight with a 4-0 victory over No. 21 Mississippi State at the Case Tennis Center, in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday. This is the Tar Heels (28-4, 9-3 ACC) second-straight victory over the Bulldogs (18-9, 7-5 SEC) in NCAA Tournament play, having defeated them 4-1 in 2015.
The Tar Heels took an early lead after narrowly pulling out the doubles point against the Bulldogs.
Sophomore Robert Kelly was not in the lineup for Thursday’s match due to an injury, Coach Sam Paul hopes to have him back for UNC's Elite Eight match. He was replaced in doubles by redshirt-senior Andrew Gores, and in singles by first-year Blaine Boyden. Gores and senior Brett Clark were moved to the No. 3 position.
The duo of junior Ronnie Schneider and first-year Anu Kodali were unaffected by the change, and won their match, 6-2. However, Gores and Clark struggled to find their rhythm, and lost their match decisively, 6-2. This left juniors Braydon Schnur and Jack Murray in a position to clinch the point for their team.
In what turned out to be a very even match, the two teams would trade games all the way to a tiebreaker. Even in the tiebreaker there was never much separation, with ties at 3-3, 4-4 and 5-5. Schnur and Murray would then eventually take control of the match, winning the next two points and giving the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead.