“I’m proud of my team,” UNC head coach Sam Paul said. “They had to step in and compete. We knew N.C. State would come at us with everything.”
The No. 11 Tar Heels (14-4, 6-2 ACC) outlasted No. 21 N.C. State, taking home a 4-0 victory over the in-state rival. This was the program’s 400th ACC win.
“They’re a really talented team,” junior William Blumberg said. “Rankings and numbers are BS. They’re way better than that…They continued to fight the whole day.”
From the get-go, it was a battle between blue and red. While Court One’s No. 34 duo Blumberg and senior Blaine Boyden, who were named ACC Men’s Tennis Doubles Team of the Week, secured an early 6-3 victory, the other two courts went into a simultaneous tiebreak.
“We’re winning this match, baby,” junior Ladd Harrison shouted. “Let’s go.”
On Court Three, junior Simon Soendergaard and sophomore Mac Kiger ended up sealing the doubles point for the Tar Heels after climbing from an early deficit. They trailed throughout the entire doubles play until they were down, 5-3. From there, Soendergaard and Kiger battled to eventually win a 7-3 tiebreak to seal the doubles point for UNC.
“We dug a hole at three, and we came back,” Paul said. “We played some great tennis too. We were right there.”
All throughout the doubles play, team captains Boyden and Blumberg kept the energy up with their own shouts of encouragement, hoping it would rub off on the rest of the team and drown out the Wolfpack yells.
“Let’s go,” Blumberg and Boyden yelled periodically.
UNC carried the momentum into singles, winning the first set on four of the courts. Boyden finished first for the Tar Heels with a 6-0, 6-2 victory. When Blumberg heard the lone senior’s iconic yell, signifying he had won, Blumberg couldn’t help but smile despite still competing.
“Fire it up, Heels,” Blumberg yelled, raising his fist in the air.
Instead of staying on Court Five, Boyden dropped everything, grabbed his towel, and ran up to Court One. There, No. 29 Blumberg was facing a battle of his own against No. 22 Alexis Galarneau.
“I was confident he was going to win, but I just wanted to give him that spark of energy,” Boyden said. “We’re able to feed off of each other, and he got the job done. He had the hard part. I was just there to support.”
Blumberg was down in the second set, 5-3, 15-40, serving, when Boyden came to his court. However, seeing his housemate and hearing his friends behind him helped the junior find his stride.
“That’s my dawg,” Blumberg said with a smile. “I’ll live and die with Bo, so to have him next to me going bananas means a lot…Having Bo there always helps. That’s my guy.”
As his opponent started tiring out, Blumberg started building momentum, eventually clinching the Tar Heel victory with a 6-3, 7-5 win. The team’s stamina on the hot, sunny day helped tire out N.C. State, launching UNC to a tie with Virginia and Miami for second in the ACC standings.
“We’re a bunch of fighters,” Boyden said. “We’re going to do anything we can to get the job done. We’ve been putting in the hard yards, and I think it’s paying off. I’m looking forward to see where this team is going because we’re in the right direction.
“I’m excited to see where we’re headed.”
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