The No. 5 North Carolina men’s tennis team (7-0) remained undefeated after sweeping No. 11 TCU (3-3) on Sunday, 6-0, in Fort Worth, Texas.
Doubles seemed to give the Tar Heels some trouble as it became "a bit tricky at the end" in the words of junior Benjamin Sigouin.
Sigouin and first-year Rinky Hijikata were the first to finish on Court 3, winning 6-3. But things got more complicated when TCU claimed a victory on Court 1 as doubles partners William Blumberg and Brian Cernoch fell 6-4 to No. 34 Alastair Gray/Jacob Fearnley. With each team picking up a win, all eyes landed on Court 2, the home of No. 3 duo Simon Soendergaard and Mac Kiger.
The two had previously led 5-2 before losing four straight sets. During Kiger’s serve, the two kept the game alive and forced it into a tiebreaker. Despite trailing 3-2 at the beginning, Kiger and Soendergaard eventually cliched the doubles point for North Carolina.
With only five courts available at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center, Soendergaard had to wait for a court to become available before he could start. For a majority of the courts, it was a slow start with close first matches. But for Blumberg, he quickly finished his first set with a 6-1 victory. However, in the second set, the senior forced it to seven points, ultimately winning 7-5 and allowing Soendergaard to begin his match.
Cernoch was the next Tar Heel to finish by winning 6-4 in straight sets. No. 60 Sigouin, a team captain, clinched the win for UNC on Court 2. After forcing his first set into a tiebreaker and winning, Sigouin quickly got into a rhythm and started "dictating" the match.
Hijikata and No. 80 senior Josh Peck both sent their singles matches into the third set. The first-year won 4-6, 6-2, 2-1 after his opponent, No. 122 Tadeas Paroulek, retired. As for the senior, Peck was the final Tar Heel to finish with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win, leaving Soendergaard without the chance to complete his first set.
Who stood out?
Blumberg, who still remains unranked, continues to stun ranked opponents week after week. On Feb. 2, the senior beat defending NCAA champion Paul Jubb from the University of South Carolina. On Sunday afternoon, Blumberg, who is one of three team captains, finished first with a commanding 6-1, 7-5 win over No. 55 Alastair Gray.
When was it decided?
The match truly wasn’t decided until the second set of singles for a majority of the courts. While the Tar Heels did secure the doubles point, momentum seemed to be up in the air as the first sets in singles were riddled with close matches.
Why does it matter?
With this victory over TCU, UNC has gone seven games with a clean sweep in the spring season for the first time in over a decade. In the last three matchups between these two programs, the Tar Heels have been victorious every time.
Between the undefeated start and being ranked No. 1 in the USTA poll for the first time in program history, North Carolina has positioned itself to be a threat in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Madison, Wisconsin, for the first round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, which starts on Friday.
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