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'A great day at the office': UNC men's tennis sweeps Wofford during opening weekend

Simon Soendergaard UVA

Sophomore Simon Soendergaard celebrates during an Sunday, April 1, 2018 match against Virginia at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.

Simon Soendergaard stood on Court Four, bouncing the ball once before hitting his serve. 

The senior’s grunt echoed throughout Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, hit after hit. Only a couple fans looked on to his 6-0, 6-3 victory, clinching a definite win for the No. 4 North Carolina men’s tennis team.

The Tar Heels improved to 2-0 during their opening weekend after sweeping Wofford, 7-0. 

"Wofford took the doubles point from Clemson yesterday, and that woke us up a little bit coming in," head coach Sam Paul said. "I was really pleased with our energy in doubles. We played better than we did the day before, so overall better.” 

With four seniors, this year’s team features the largest graduating class since the 2015-16 team: Soendergaard, captain William Blumberg, No. 82 Josh Peck and captain Ladd Harrison. 

“It’s scary,” Blumberg said. “It’s kind of crazy that it’s my last year. But (I'm) just making the most of it and kind of savoring every moment as we go.”

As the team works through injuries and looks to perfect its chemistry, all four seniors currently compete in both doubles and singles. And on Sunday, Blumberg/Brian Cernoch, No. 7 Soendergaard/Mac Kiger and Peck/Harrison swept Courts One, Two and Three, respectively. 

“The best thing that we can do is control what we can control,” Blumberg said. “That’s our energy: everyone being positive, everyone staying with it, everyone playing the points that we want to.” 

During warmups, the team was lacking energy, Blumberg said. But as the afternoon progressed, Cone-Kenfield came alive with chants from the players and cheers from fans.  

Some of the singles matches ended as quickly as they started. Cernoch and Kiger both swept their sets, finishing 6-1, 6-2 and 6-1, 6-1, respectively. Over on Court Four, it was Soendergaard that sealed another UNC victory, while Blumberg finished a few seconds later, winning 6-2 in straight sets.

It all came down to seniors and doubles partners Harrison and Peck to seal the North Carolina sweep. 

Peck has quickly become an impact player for UNC. He went 14-9 in singles, 6-4 in conference play and finished the 2019 spring season as No. 90 in singles before rising to No. 82 in singles by the end of the 2019 fall season. 

“Josh had a tremendous year for us last year, and has been a steady rock,” Paul said. 

Peck finished on Sunday with a 6-1, 6-4 victory, pushing UNC to 6-0 for the afternoon. 

A few courts away, Harrison shuffled around on Court Six, almost never standing still. While the co-captain has stepped on the court during spring play a few times during his career, the Georgia native has quickly become an impact player.

“There’s some players on this Wofford team that’s beaten him up,” Paul said. “It’s great to have Ladd play (on Sunday) in singles and doubles and how much he’s meant to us and our whole program from a work standpoint.”

On a few of Harrison's hits, the senior would hover in the air once the ball bounced off of his racket. Through it all, he held his composure and almost never allowed himself to be caught flat-footed, just as a captain should. 

Harrison sealed the UNC sweep by winning 6-4 in straight sets. 

Although it's just the beginning of the spring season for the North Carolina men’s tennis team, there were promising moments during its kickoff weekend. There was evidence of good chemistry on a deep roster, and the talent was showcased throughout the day.

But was it perfect? No. 

That was one feeling the team was adamant about after the match. There’s always room to grow. After all, it is just the beginning.

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“We haven’t really had that many matches this season, but I think everyone did a really good job at staying focused and trying to do their best on every court,” Soendergaard said with a smile. “It was a great day at the office.”


@DTHSports |