Saturday morning started off normal for UNC. Junior William Blumberg was back in the lineup competing alongside senior Blaine Boyden, the other half of the No. 28 doubles team on Court 1.
Sophomore Mac Kiger and junior Simon Soendergaard were the first to win a doubles match, snagging an early 6-3 victory. It was Blumberg and Boyden who secured the Tar Heel doubles point with a 6-4 win of their own after Boyden hit a hard volley.
The team captains bumped chests, their yells being drowned out by the fans’ cheers. The momentum seemed to be in UNC’s favor.
“Let’s go, baby,” the duo yelled.
UNC carried the energy into singles as the team won the first set on three courts. On Court 1, No. 19 Blumberg slipped past No. 5 Carl Soderlund with a 6-3 win, while No. 38 Ben Sigouin outlasted Brandon Nakashima, 6-0. Boyden was the other Tar Heel to win on Court 5 with a 6-1 victory.
All North Carolina had to do was hold onto those three courts, and the team would be on its way to the ACC Championship again. However, something changed.
Sigouin finished his match first with a 6-2 win, pushing UNC ahead, 2-0. This shutout didn’t last long as Kiger fell 6-3, 6-4 after a long battle on Court 6. Brian Cernoch sent his second set into a tiebreak after being down, 3-1. However, the first-year eventually fell 6-2, 7-6 (2), leveling the score to 2-2.
Josh Peck was the next Tar Heel to fall. Although he lost 6-3 in the first set, the junior battled in the second and led a majority of the set. However, he lost 7-5.
All eyes turned to the two captains, Blumberg and Boyden, as they battled on Courts 1 and 5 respectively. Both of their second sets went into a tiebreak, which both Tar Heels lost. However, as they entered into the third set, there was a shift in the momentum.
The two usually feed off their team’s energy and their teammates lined up on Court 3. As the rest of the team cheered on Boyden and Blumberg, the lone senior started to pull ahead.
Boyden had a 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3 victory, leaving everyone lined up at the courts at the Cary Tennis Park to focus solely on Blumberg, who was behind 5-3 on a 40-40 point.
“That’s optimal,” Blumberg said. “You trust everybody, but you want it in your own hands.”
As UVA’s Soderlund had a double fault, Blumberg broke 4-5. A few faulty errors left him at match point down 40-15, but the junior battled to tie it up 40-40. However, the cards weren’t in Blumberg’s favor. He fell 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
Now, as the UNC team prepares to head into the NCAA Tournament, the players are focused on getting healthy and strengthening their fitness as the temperatures get hotter.
“We’re going to fight, and everybody knows that,” Boyden said. “Everyone understands how good we are, and we’re going to leave it on the line every single time we step on the court.”
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