When things got tough for the No. 2 North Carolina men’s tennis team, it responded.
The Tar Heels pulled out a win against N.C. State 5-2 in Raleigh on Sunday after falling behind briefly.
The Tar Heels (18-1, 3-1 ACC) grabbed the first team point, winning two out of three in doubles. Redshirt senior Andrew Gores and junior Jack Murray got off the court first with a 6-1 win. Then the team of senior Brett Clark and sophomore Robert Kelly, one of the best duos in the nation, notched a 6-4 win for the deciding second doubles victory.
“When you have a teammate that you can rely on all the time like (Clark), who is so solid, you go into the match a lot more confident that ‘you know what, I can swing away because, even if I do lose, (Clark) will be there for a win and so it’ll cancel my loss out,” Kelly said.
But that momentum did not carry over into singles.
The Tar Heels dropped their first two singles matches and N.C. State snatched a 2-1 lead. But North Carolina responded. Clark and Kelly both earned singles victories in straight sets to give the Tar Heels the lead for good.
Leading 3-2, the Tar Heels needed a win from Murray to secure the victory over the Wolfpack. And he delivered in dominating fashion with a 6-0, 6-0 victory.
First year Anudeep Kodali concluded the match with another point for North Carolina when he finished with a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
The win is the third straight for the Tar Heels and second in three days. Clark said the win showed the toughness the team needs to overcome adversity.
“It’s always tough playing here – N.C. State on the road," Clark said. "You know they’re going to give us their best shot."
“Today was good because we played a quality team and we still came out with a really good result. We kind of showed our dominance.” — Kelly on how the Tar Heels performed today
Junior Ronnie Schneider played on court one for the Tar Heels on Sunday. Junior Brayden Schnur usually takes center court, but he was slated to play on court two in his first match back after he sustained an injury on March 13 against Miami. Schneider and Schnur both lost their matches.
Three numbers that matter
80: Gores has won eight of ten doubles matches this season with four different partners; good for 80 percent. He partnered with Murray in their doubles match today and won 6-1.
3: Murray has lost a total of three games this season. He won his match today with dropping a game.
4: The Tar Heels won the last four matches of the day to secure the 5-2 victory. Sunday is the first time the Tar Heels have come from behind to win since they did it against Virginia in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Indoor championship game.
The Tar Heels host the Clemson Tigers (11-8) next Friday, March 25 at 3:00 p.m. The match will mark the first of a four match home stand.
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