The scene was set perfectly.
There were endless storylines.
It seemed destined to happen.
But when the dust settled, it was just another match.
On Friday, the North Carolina men’s tennis team had a chance to go into Columbus, Ohio, and take down senior Nelson Vick’s former school, No. 1 Ohio State, who came into the match with a 181-game home winning streak on the line.
The No. 12 Tar Heels were led by the freshman duo of No. 19 Brayden Schnur and No. 29 Ronnie Schneider, both of whom considered Ohio State before ultimately coming to UNC.
But in the end, the Buckeyes remained undefeated with a 4-1 victory against the Tar Heels, who dropped to 11-2 for the season.
The score was hardly indicative of the match, however.
Ohio State secured the doubles point only after winning a tiebreaker on court one. Schneider and Schnur won on court two after No. 44 Brett Clark and Esben Hess-Olesen were upset on court three, setting the stage for a showdown.
Coach Sam Paul decided to have Vick and Oystein Steiro on court one for this match, where they would take on No. 3 Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka. Paul has mixed up his doubles lineups with regularity this season, having Vick and Steiro play on all three courts at one time or another.
“We think have three real capable (doubles) teams,” Paul said.
The pair stood their ground against the highly-ranked duo of Kobelt and Metka, but in the end they fell 8-7, after losing the tiebreaker point 7-3.
“We were probably about as even as two teams can be,” Vick said.
Vick said he was disappointed in the loss, but the tension in the tiebreaker was everything he could have hoped for in his return to Columbus.
“I was loving it actually,” he said. “I left Ohio State because I was the one who was sitting on the bench instead of the one on the court when the match is on the line.”
In singles, Steiro and Vick were defeated on courts five and six, respectively, before No. 47 Clark pulled out a win on court three. Meanwhile, Schnur and Schneider had won the first sets on courts one and two, both matched up against ranked opponents.
Then UNC lost another tiebreaker, this time with Hess-Olesen losing set one on court four. Soon afterward, he lost set two, solidifying Ohio State’s victory, 4-1.
Schneider said a loud and passionate crowd is what gave the Buckeyes the edge in the tiebreakers.
“It was pretty crazy actually, the place was overflowing,” he said. “It was a lot of fun though, I really, really enjoyed myself.”
“We were so close though, we could’ve taken that match.”
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