The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday January 31st

M. Tennis: Dramatic victory gives Heels momentum boost

As deuce after deuce piled up in the fifth game of the third set between North Carolina's Brennan Boyajian and Cal's Jonathan Dahan the players on the court adjacent to them couldn't help but pause for a moment and sneak a glance at the drama.

The team score between the Tar Heels and the Bears stood at 3-2 in favor of California but with UNC senior Taylor Fogleman ahead 5-2 in his third set it was apparent that the winner of Boyajian and Dahan's match would seal the victory for his team.

And everyone at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center knew it.

With the match tied at 2-2 in its final set and a seemingly endless fifth game occurring in front of them" an eruption of sound emerged from supporters of both teams after every single point to try and will their player into winning the pivotal game.

""I was thinking" if I can just win this game the momentum will carry over to win the rest of the games" Boyajian, a freshman, said. It's so different from juniors"" because that was the first time after points everyone was screaming and yelling.""

Once Dahan double-faulted to finally give the game to Boyajian in its 10th deuce" Boyajian never allowed his opponent to get back into the match. He slammed the door on Dahan by winning the final three games taking the set 6-2 and giving the Tar Heels a 4-3 victory.

Adding to the drama was that Boyajian managed to rally after a disastrous start to his singles match. Dahan appeared to be in control after a 6-0 beatdown of the UNC freshman in the first set" but that's when UNC coach Sam Paul suggested a couple adjustments to Boyajian to try and get him back on track.

""We tried to serve to a different spot and tried to use a little different strategy off the baseline and it seemed to work a little bit"" Paul said.

Elsewhere, UNC's top three players — Clay Donato, Andrew Crone and Fogleman — won matches for the Tar Heels, mustering important singles victories at the No. 1, 2 and 3 positions to make sure Boyajian's comeback would mean something.

Donato surprisingly had little trouble defeating Kallim Stewart, rated the No. 49 singles player in the country. He never let Stewart get into any sort of rhythm in a dominant 6-3, 6-1 win.

When Clay's playing well" he's a tough matchup for anyone in the country assistant coach Tripp Phillips said. He was working hard with his feet got up early in both sets" and I think that helped him momentum-wise. He was always front-running.""

The comeback victory came at the right time for a UNC team that was reeling from a Saturday loss against Virginia Commonwealth. The Tar Heels lost several close matches against the Rams"" and the defeat meant they didn't qualify for ITA National Team Indoors.

""It's a huge momentum boost" especially after losing the doubles point Fogleman said. We'll take a lot from it" but we know we can get a lot better.""

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