“They’re a fighting group of guys,” head coach Sam Paul said. “There’s no doubt they’re going to fight, but I’ve got to get them always fighting for every single point.”
While the two matches had a similar ending, UNC got there through polar opposite styles of play.
On Friday, UNC won the doubles point after a 6-1 victory from Court Two duo first-year Brian Cernoch and sophomore Benjamin Sigouin and a 6-2 win from Court Three’s junior Simon Soendergaard and sophomore Mac Kiger. While Court One went unfinished, the doubles team of Blumberg and senior Blaine Boyden were ahead 5-2.
As for singles, there was a lineup switch up after Blumberg suffered an injury. Each player moved up a court while Kiger moved in on Court Six.
Boyden finished first, feeding off of his energy from doubles with a quick 6-3, 6-0 win. Kiger had a 6-4, 6-4 straight-set victory while the other courts went into the third set. Oklahoma’s No. 49 Alex Bakshi defeated No. 110 Cernoch 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. UNC’s own No. 109 junior Josh Peck sealed the victory with his own 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win.
According to Paul, the team as a whole played better tennis that afternoon. On Sunday against Miami, it was a different story.
Against the Hurricanes, doubles lasted close to an hour with Courts Two and Three starting from behind, while Court One stayed tied for the first two points. The Tar Heel lineup was the same as Friday’s, but the results were different. Sigouin and Cernoch finished first; however, they fell 6-3. Blumberg and Boyden had a 6-3 win, tying the overall score.
Soendergaard and Kiger climbed up from a deficit, eventually tying it 5-5. However, as emotions raised along with the heat, the two Tar Heels started making small mistakes.
“C’mon boys,” associate head coach Tripp Phillips said. “They react to us.”
The duo fell 7-5, giving Miami the doubles point; however, the team’s overall attitude shifted. Morale was raised and the team refocused heading into singles.
“You’re being positive because you’re not just playing for yourself,” Blumberg said. “On the top or the bottom, no matter where you play, people around you are feeding off of your energy so no matter what your score is, you got to be positive and help each other out.”
Blumberg entered the singles lineup again, but Soendergaard didn’t, leaving Kiger a spot on Court Six. All six courts won the first round of singles. While it may have seemed easy, the second set was a sharp contrast from the first set.
Kiger finished first with a 6-2, 6-4 victory, redeeming himself after a doubles loss. No. 37 Sigouin followed closely behind with a 6-3 straight win, pushing UNC into the lead. Almost simultaneously, Boyden’s yell echoed throughout the outdoor courts. He won 6-4, 6-1.
While Blumberg and Cernoch battled through a tiebreaker in the second set and both of them leading, No. 109 Peck clinched the UNC win for the second time of the weekend. He won 6-3, 7-5.
UNC's win over the Hurricanes can be credited to a combination of attitude and sportsmanship.
“If you’re positive, you’re going to play a certain way, and then if you’re negative, you’re going to play a certain way also,” Blumberg said. “It feeds off to all of the other people on the different courts. Being positive in your mental game and energy is the most important thing no matter how you’re playing.”
These two factors alone can make or break a game no matter the talent.
“Mentality and belief is so big in tennis,” Boyden said. “If you just have a few mental errors, it can be the difference of winning and losing.”