The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday December 3rd

Men's tennis plays catch-up, falls to VCU

Slow starts had the North Carolina men’s tennis team playing catch-up as it took on Virginia Commonwealth in Chapel Hill on Wednesday.

The No. 44 Tar Heels fell to the 28th-ranked Rams 5-2 in a three-and-a-half hour match that tested the team’s endurance.

North Carolina started the match with a loss in doubles. VCU took the point with two wins on the second and third courts.

Nelson Vick and Esben Hess-Oleson dropped their match 8-3 to the Rams’ Michal Voscek and Max Wennakoski.

VCU’s Alejandro Argente and Jamie Vasquez squeaked by Oystein Steiro and Andrew Gores by an 8-6 margin.

Only first-court pairing William Parker and Brett Clark held their ground. The two were tied with VCU at five games each, but their match was called after the other two UNC pairs lost.

Parker and Clark later picked up UNC’s only two wins in the singles matches.

Clark, a freshman, said taking down opponents early in the match was part of the scouting plan against VCU.

“I tried to really lock down in the beginning of both sets,” Clark said. “I kind of took the first one really fast. The second one was a little bit tougher. He started to fight at the end, but I held it together.”

That fast-start strategy was vital for the Tar Heels, who needed to win four singles matches to take away the win.

Clark defeated VCU’s Claes Goransson in two sets, taking both 6-1.

Parker edged Voscek 7-6 in the first set but more decisively took the second 6-1.

Clark and Parker’s victories were sandwiched by two quick North Carolina losses.

The last remaining Tar Heels, Vick and Steiro, both trailed by one set toward the end of the match.

With two losses and two wins, their matches were the only ones still going. Both Tar Heels would have to win if UNC were to take the match.

Steiro fought back from a 0-5 start to tie the set at five games apiece. His opponent, Argente, pushed the score to six, and Steiro tied it once again.

But shortly after, Steiro lost his second set 7-6 in a tiebreak.

Coach Sam Paul said he expected that intensity from his players the entire match.

“We’re just not playing a complete match all the way through,” Paul said. “(With Steiro) starting 5-0 and then having to fight back. We should be playing like that every single (match). We shouldn’t have dug that deep of a hole for us.”

Parker said the team’s performance wasn’t where it needed to be moving into ACC play and the outdoor season.

“We just have to compete harder, fight harder, play smarter,” Parker said. “We played a little below our level. It’s frustrating, but we’ll get there.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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