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The Daily Tar Heel

Paladins Squeak Past Tar Heels in Last Match

Losing was the last thing on the Paladins' minds as they left the Cone-Kenfield Indoor Tennis Center after shocking the Tar Heels 4-3.

With the match even at three points apiece and Furman senior Lee Nickell leading in the decisive third set against Tar Heel ace Marcio Petrone, it was obvious that the Paladins were not looking to leave Chapel Hill with anything but their first-ever series victory.

Nickell led 1-0 in the third set when Paladin No. 5 seed Chris Henderson clinched victory against UNC's Chad Riley 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 on an adjacent court.

After hearing the roar that came from his teammates watching from above, it became clear to Nickell that ending Furman's 30-game winless streak against UNC (2-1) a possibility and a pressure that he welcomed.

"I wanted it on me," Nickell said. "I felt confident today. This such a good place to play, the atmosphere, the people up there. It was wonderful.

"I tried to block out the crowd, because I didn't want any added pressure, but yes, I wanted the match on my shoulders."

Nickell responded to the challenge by holding service for the entire third set while breaking Petrone's twice to foster a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win.

Although Nickell's victory was the one that sent his teammates into a frenzy, both sides conceded that in no way was the match decided only on center court.

"I knew coming in we had a very good team, all the way from spots one through seven," Furman coach Paul Scarpa said. "Against us, North Carolina always seems to muster a win, but this time I felt we had a chance to do it."

Furman won the critical doubles point, beating North Carolina

2-1. Furman duo James Cameron and John Chesworth defeated Petrone and Nicholas Monroe 8-2 at the No. 1. seed. The third-seeded tandem of Charlie Lloyd and Henderson edged Tar Heels Greg Archer and Max Hilkey 8-6.

At the No. 2 seed doubles, David Cheatwood and Trystan Meniane provided UNC with its one doubles win, defeating Patrick Fillnow and Andrew Rogers 8-6.

"We have a real confidence in doubles," Scarpa said. "If we could carry the enthusiasm from doubles going into singles and play the way I have seen them play, I knew we were capable of beating a good team."

True to Scarpa's game plan, the momentum then carried over to singles action, where along with the victories of Nickell and Henderson, No. 3 Chesworth defeated Meniane 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

UNC received solid play in its three singles victories, with Monroe defeating Fillnow 6-1, 6-3; Riley beating Henderson 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 and Cheatwood winning 6-3, 6-0.

"Personally, I probably played my best match of the season," Cheatwood said. "But, as a team, we lost the match very poorly. It's disappointing, but it's still very early in the season.

"But they played very well. I have to give them a lot of credit. This loss just gives us a kick in the butt and gets us motivated to go out the next time."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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