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Friday February 3rd

UNC men's tennis comes up just short in 4-3 loss to Virginia

<p>Senior Ronnie Schneider returns a volley in his singles match in the 2016 ACC&nbsp;semi-finals.&nbsp;The UNC men's tennis team lost 4-3 to the University of Virginia in the AC semi-finals on Saturday,&nbsp;April 23rd.</p>
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Senior Ronnie Schneider returns a volley in his singles match in the 2016 ACC semi-finals. The UNC men's tennis team lost 4-3 to the University of Virginia in the AC semi-finals on Saturday, April 23rd.

The No. 11 North Carolina men’s tennis team lost, 4-3, to No. 4 Virginia at the Snyder Tennis Center in Charlottesville, Va. This is the Tar Heels (19-3, 6-2 ACC) second loss to the Cavaliers (20-1, 7-1 ACC) this season, and their third straight to Virginia overall.

What happened?

The back-and-forth pace of this match was set early on with tightly contested matches on all three courts. After trading points through the first eight games of the set, UNC struck first with a 6-4 win by senior Jack Murray and first-year Simon Soendergaard. Minutes later — with senior Ronnie Schneider and sophomore Anu Kodali down 6-5 on court three — it was the country’s No. 9 tandem of junior Robert Kelly and first-year William Blumberg who sealed the doubles point for their team with a 6-4 win, with Blumberg serving an ace to put his team up 1-0.

The Cavaliers rallied early on in singles to win four of the six opening sets, with Murray and No. 12 Schneider the only Tar Heels to take sets. UNC was up 2-0 after Schneider delivered a dominating performance against No. 12 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, winning in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0. The depth of the UVA team then took effect on the match.

No. 63 Collin Altamirano defeated No. 93 Kelly in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4. No. 79 Henrik Wiersholm followed suit with a straight-sets win of his own over Soendergaard, and J.C Aragone defeated sophomore Blaine Boyden in straight sets with scores of 6-2 and 7-5. That left the Tar Heels down 3-2, and needing wins on the remaining two courts to take home the victory.

Who stood out?

Schneider and Blumberg, UNC’s two highest-ranked singles players, came up big for their team in a tough conference match. Blumberg started the day by serving an ace to clinch the doubles point for his team, and then he rallied from a one-set deficit, again serving out the match, to win in singles. 

Schneider couldn’t have asked for a much better performance in his singles match, as he defeated a top-15 opponent in straight sets without dropping a game in the second.

When was it decided?

The Tar Heels needed wins on courts two and five to come away with a victory, and both were headed to a decisive third set. No. 34 Blumberg bounced back from a rough first set to win the next two pretty comfortably, leaving the deciding match up to the senior Murray. After falling in a 2-0 hole to start the set, he would battle to stay competitive, but couldn’t complete the comeback, ultimately losing, 6-4.

Why does it matter?

This would have been a statement win for UNC, but despite the loss, there are positive takeaways for the team. 

This 4-3 defeat was a much better performance than when they were shutout by UVa. in the semifinals of the ITA Indoor Championships earlier this season. They were able to take the doubles point, and they had good performances from their top two players. The Tar Heels have to feel good about their chances if these two teams meet again in a few weeks at the ACC Championship.

Where do they play next?

UNC will be back at the Cone-Kenfield tennis center on Friday, when they will take on Boston College at 11 a.m.

@CPhillips2020

sports@dailytarheel.com

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