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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Players Falter in ITA Regional

Both endear themselves to audiences with their on-court antics, both go by funny nicknames (Mo and Googa) and both are natives of Brazil.

But while Kuerten rakes in the big bucks on the pro circuit, Petrone is toiling in the college ranks as the No. 1 singles seed for the North Carolina men's tennis team.

This weekend, Petrone and several of his Tar Heels teammates in Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Regional/Top of the Hill tournament.

Saturday, Petrone was the only Tar Heel left, and he was bounced out of the tournament at Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, losing 6-4, 6-4 to Florida State's Romain Jurd.

Jurd later fell to Roger Anderson, the eventual tournament's winner.

After Jurd broke Petrone's serve, the third-seeded Petrone showcased some of his Kuerten-style behavior, kicking and heading some of the tennis balls up into the crowd, which was cheering "Go Mo."

"The crowd cheering me up definitely helped me," Petrone said. "If it were not for the crowd, I would've been out of there much faster."

Petrone fell behind 4-1 in the first set but battled back to make it 5-4.

But when Petrone had a chance to break Jurd's serve, he missed an easy volley for the break.

"I couldn't find my rhythm, Petrone said. "All of a sudden I would either play up or down, and I couldn't get back into the match. You can't win if you can't win those key points."

Earlier in the tournament, Petrone defeated East Tennessee State's Peter Sahagun 6-2, 6-0 and Georgia Tech's David Wright 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the round of 16.

Petrone, UNC's lone senior, was the only Tar Heel left in the tournament by Saturday.

"He does a good job leading the team," UNC coach Sam Paul said. "He understands our philosophy and what is best for the team."

Freshman Geoff Boyd, who upset seventh-seeded Mike Murray of Wake Forest in the first main draw round, lost 7-6, 6-1 to Virginia Commonwealth's Pedro Nieto. The win for Nieto affirmed Paul's aspirations for the program's freshman class.

"We have four new players in the tournament, and we wanted to see where they were competition-wise," Paul said.

In doubles, Petrone and newcomer Andy Metzler were the only North Carolina doubles team to qualify for the main draw.

They lost 8-2 in the round of 16 to Wake Forest's David Loewenthal and Trent Brendon.

This tournament marked the end of the fall season for UNC.

"If we are going to change something about somebody's game, we are going to do it in the fall," Paul said.

"Typically in the fall we work on so many things that we are still learning during the tournament. Overall, I was pleased with the results."

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