Strong play from the start helped the No. 30 North Carolina men’s tennis team avenge last year’s loss to N.C. State, winning 6-1 in a match that was closer than the final score indicated.
Senior Clay Donato, ranked 49th nationally, overcame a slow individual start to win his singles match 6-4, 6-2.
Donato was able to frustrate N.C. State’s Jaime Pulgar by staying on the attack throughout the match.
“I couldn’t hit winners, but I tried to outwork him,” Donato said.
The first outdoor match of the year at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center on Monday brought tough weather conditions for the players to deal with, including strong winds and cool temperatures.
Freshman Jose Hernandez, the 68th ranked player in the nation, was not used to playing outdoors, but he still managed to win his match 7-5, 6-4.
“I had to adjust my game to the weather conditions and adapt to the wind,” Hernandez said. “The rest of the season is outdoors, so adjusting to the weather is important.”
Frustrated with the way he played, Hernandez stayed on the court after his match was over to practice hitting more balls in tough conditions.
“I wasn’t moving that well,” Hernandez said. “But every match you learn something new, and that will help for the rest of the outdoor season.”
The Tar Heels finished the match on a high note when senior Andrew Crone held on to win a third set tiebreaker to give the team the 6-1 victory.
Although the outcome of the match was no longer in question, the whole team stayed to rally behind Crone, cheering him on after each point.
North Carolina took control early after sweeping the doubles matches 3-0 to win the first point against the Wolfpack.
Junior Stefan Hardy won his singles match 6-3, 6-3, and sophomore Brennan Boyajian won 6-2, 6-4 to help the Tar Heels take a commanding 3-0 lead.
The win for the Tar Heels is the fifth straight and moves the team to a 10-2 overall record after the first ACC match of the season.
Coach Sam Paul said he was proud of the way his team performed despite the cold conditions.
“We played a good mental match,” Paul said.
Paul knows how important it is to get a win in the conference and did not take the win for granted.
“We have a lot of respect for them,” Paul said. “We know they have a dangerous team, but we competed really well.”
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