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Monday December 6th

Louisville’s doubles play sinks UNC

Hess-Olesen & ..
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Emotions were palpable Saturday night at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, shouts and expletives echoing off the walls.

All three doubles matches with Louisville were simultaneously tied at seven games apiece — and matches are played to eight.

In a matter of minutes, the Tar Heels lost the match on court three and then won on court two, putting the spotlight on court one to decide the outcome of the best-of-three doubles contest.

But the suspense didn’t last long. Seconds later, a Louisville player ripped the match-winning shot right between Tar Heel doubles partners Esben Hess-Olesen and Oystein Steiro, who stood frozen in place as they watched the ball bounce past.

With all the momentum on its side, No. 41 Louisville outlasted the No. 19 Tar Heels in singles, winning the overall match 4-2.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had three tiebreakers in doubles before,” said senior William Parker, part of the only winning UNC doubles team. “That’s about as close as it can get.”

While the doubles drama was exciting entertainment for the fans in the crowd, it was not what the players wanted. The Tar Heels were frustrated with their inability to capitalize on chances to put the matches away sooner.

“We had so many opportunities,” coach Sam Paul said, visibly disappointed. “We were up a break on court one, we were up a break on court three, and we had a match point on court three. We just didn’t get the job done.”

With lots of new faces on the roster, the Tar Heels are still sorting out kinks and fine-tuning the lineup. Due to recent struggles, Paul altered the doubles pairings again before Saturday’s match.

But the players didn’t blame the new pairings for the outcome of the matches.

“The doubles teams seemed like they worked pretty well,” Parker said. “Brett (Clark) and I played pretty well together. We definitely had our chances, but we just didn’t get the job done.”

Early in the match, Parker and Clark seemed the least likely of the three UNC doubles teams to get a win. But they rallied back from a three-game deficit and survived the tiebreaker to win 8-7.

Parker easily handled his singles opponent in two sets, but the rest of the Tar Heels came out flat after the disappointing doubles finish.

“When you lose the doubles point, you have to come to play in every singles spot,” Paul said. “And we didn’t show up ready to play in some spots.”

“You have to give Louisville credit. They played hungry and they came out swinging.”

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