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The Daily Tar Heel

North Carolina men's tennis shuts out N.C. State, 4-0

Brian Cernoch Florida State
First-year Brian Cernoch hits a forehand during UNC's match against Florida State on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The Heels beat the Seminoles 6-1.

The No. 11 North Carolina men’s tennis team handled No. 21 N.C. State on Wednesday, winning 4-0 on a sunny afternoon at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center in Chapel Hill.

What happened?

The doubles sets were tight to start the day, with the No. 34 duo of William Blumberg and Blaine Boyden taking down Michael Ogden and Alexis Galarneau of the Wolfpack in the opening match, 6-3, before the other two matches went to tiebreakers. Simon Soendergaard and Mac Kiger managed to snatch the win in their set, winning 7-6 (7-3) to give UNC the doubles point and the early advantage.

Singles play was decidedly more lopsided, with the Tar Heels getting out to early leads in four out of the six matches over N.C. State — who interestingly didn’t start a single American player in singles.

Boyden made quick work of his opponent Robert Turzak, sweeping the first set, 6-0, before winning the second, 6-2, to give UNC its second point of the day.

Brian Cernoch also swept his first set, but Igor Saveljic battled back for the Wolfpack to send the second set to a tiebreak. Cernoch would prevail, however, winning the second set 7-6 (7-4) to put the home team within one win of clinching the match.

The match on court one between No. 29 ranked Blumberg and No. 22 ranked Galarneau ended up being the decisive contest. Blumberg got out to an early lead and held on to win the first set 6-3, but Galarneau hung tough the entire way. On match point, Galarneau mishit a backhand to set up a powerful forehand from Blumberg that Galarneau could only put into the net, clinching the win for the Tar Heels.

With the home team up 4-0, the last three matches still in progress were called off as they wouldn’t have changed the final outcome of the match.

“I’m proud of my team,” UNC head coach Sam Paul said after the match. “They had to step in and compete. We knew N.C. State would come at us with everything.”

Who stood out?

Boyden and Blumberg were the best performers on the day, winning their matches in both singles and doubles to contribute a total of three points to UNC’s tally. Blumberg’s win in singles also came over a player ranked higher than him as an individual.

Cernoch also earned praise from his coach for closing out his match to earn a valuable point despite giving up a big lead.

“I think it shows a lot of composure to come back and win a tiebreaker after having such a big lead,” Paul said. “That’s part of managing it, so I think he learned a lot about how to manage a match.

When was it decided?

The 4-0 final score is slightly misleading in that if Cernoch and Blumberg hadn’t closed out their matches things might have gotten interesting. The other three matches had Tar Heels Benjamin Sigouin and Josh Peck tied at one set a piece with their opponents, while Soendergaard was down a set and trailing in a second set tiebreak.

If N.C. State had beaten either Cernoch or Blumberg, or won the doubles tiebreak earlier in the day, they would have been in position to give UNC a run for its money down the stretch.

Why does it matter?

The win brought the Tar Heels’ record to 8-3 against ranked teams this season, and with just four matches to go until the ACC Championship start on April 18, a confidence building win against an in-state rival could do the team a world of good.

The match was also the team’s first of three in the span of just five days, so a few wins could be a momentum builder for UNC.

Where do they play next?

The second of that three-match run takes place in Chapel Hill this Friday, April 5, against Boston College.

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