The No. 4 North Carolina men’s tennis team swept N.C. State with a 7-0 victory on Wednesday afternoon inside Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. This was the Tar Heels' (14-2, 2-1 ACC) sixth straight win over the Wolfpack (9-7, 0-1 ACC).
After a rough doubles performance last Friday against Wake Forest, UNC came out ready to play against N.C. State. Senior Jack Murray and first-year Simon Soendergaard were the first to take their match with a 6-2 score. The No. 17 duo of junior Robert Kelly and first-year William Blumberg struggled against the No. 51 pairing of Alexis Galarneau and Nick Horton, dropping their match 6-3. That left the important doubles point on the rackets of senior Ronnie Schneider and sophomore Anu Kodali, who were able to finish their match strong and claim the point for their team with a 6-3 win.
The Tar Heels continued that momentum into the singles matches, where they were able to take all six opening sets. Murray made quick work of sophomore Michael Ogden, doubling his team's lead after winning in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2. Blumberg was the next off the court with a straight-sets win of his own, taking both by a 6-3 score. That left UNC only needing one more point to clinch the win, with leads on the remaining four courts.
Who stood out?
It was a bounce-back day for Murray in both singles and doubles after he had a couple of decisive singles losses against Duke and Wake Forest last week and was also unable to finish either of his doubles matches. Against the Wolfpack, however, he was first off the court in both doubles and singles, setting the tone for the rest of his teammates.
He got back to his winning ways and showed positive signs of again becoming a consistent presence in the bottom half of UNC’s lineup.
When was it decided?
In the race to see who would finish first, it was sophomore Blaine Boyden who sealed the win for his team with a 6-3, 6-1 victory, keeping his undefeated streak alive in the dual-match season. Kelly was the next Tar Heel to win, earning a straight-sets victory over No. 73 Horton, who has won several matches while playing in the No. 1 position for the Wolfpack this season. No. 19 Schneider and Soendergaard would follow with straight-sets wins of their own, allowing the Tar Heels to end their day without dropping a set in singles play.
Why does it matter?
This sweep of N.C. State is a good sign for North Carolina. The Tar Heels were able to bounce back after a close loss to new No. 1 Wake Forest, and they showed improvement with their No. 2 and 3 doubles teams. Having Murray and Soendergaard pick up singles victories could get those two going in the right direction. Having strong play from all six singles players could help carry the team until they can figure out their doubles play.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels will now travel to Blacksburg, Va., where they will take on Virginia Tech at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
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