The No. 7 North Carolina men’s tennis team pushed through frustration Sunday against No. 5 Oklahoma, as UNC rallied from an early 2-0 deficit for a 4-3 win.
The Tar Heels and Sooners each snatched 6-4 victories to open the doubles matches. But In the final doubles match, with the all-important first team point on the line, the No. 1 doubles team in the country — the tandem of senior Brett Clark and sophomore Robert Kelly — lost after Clark’s serve was broken. North Carolina found itself down 1-0.
With the crucial first team point secured, Oklahoma needed only three singles victories to earn the win.
Each team captured two straight-set singles wins, leaving Oklahoma with a 3-2 team lead. Again, the Tar Heels needed wins from both Kelly and Clark to secure the victory.
But this time, they came through.
Kelly won the first set 7-5, but the sophomore dropped the second 4-6. Kelly’s opponent engaged himself with the crowd, and Kelly gained the mental advantage. He would go on to win the deciding third set, 6-3.
Clark also split his first two sets. By the time his set started, all other matches were complete. Clark knew he had the opportunity to end the competition with a win — and he did.
With all eyes on him, he earned two breaks on his way to a 6-2 win and the deciding victory for his team.
"It just gives us a ton of confidence knowing that we can play with anybody, we can beat anyone. Oklahoma was obviously preseason No. 2, top-5 team, still very good, and even after losing the doubles point we still know we can win four singles against anyone, which is huge.” — Clark on the confidence the team has heading into Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Indoor Championships after beating Oklahoma.
First-year Blaine Boyden lost his first career singles appearance 6-2, 6-2 on Court No. 6 against first-year Andre Biro of Oklahoma. Boyden and partner Schneider also lost their doubles match 6-4.
Three numbers that matter
1: The Tar Heels are the only team in the nation to defeat two top-10 teams this season.
25: With this victory over Oklahoma, North Carolina has now won its past 25 home contests.
6: A 6-0 start to the season for North Carolina ties its best start since 2007. The 2007 team started the season 20-0.
The Tar Heels will take part in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 12-15 in Charlottesville, Va.
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