The No. 2 North Carolina men’s tennis team defeated Virginia Tech on Sunday with a final score of 6-1 in the first game of ACC play.
Playing for the first time since the ITA National Indoor Championship game, North Carolina returned to its home court. This time, however, the match was played outdoors.
The match also was the first conference match of the season for the Tar Heels. After losing in the ITA Indoor Championship to the University of Southern California, UNC came into the match on Sunday looking to redeem itself against conference opponent Virginia Tech.
UNC swept the doubles point, gaining a 1-0 advantage in the match. Both of North Carolina’s nationally ranked doubles teams won their sets, with the No. 4 ranked Mac Kiger and Simon Soendergaard duo and No. 16 ranked William Blumberg and Brian Cernoch duo won 6-2 and 6-3, respectively.
North Carolina also took the first point of the singles match. Blumberg, who is ranked 11th in the ITA rankings as a singles performer, won both sets with a score of 6-0. This point was followed by a singles victory for No. 103 ranked Josh Peck, as he won 6-2, 6-3. The Tar Heels went ahead 4-1 after Cernoch won his singles point 6-4, 6-3.
All of the attention went to Rinky Hijikata and Soendergaard late in the match, with both players seeking to close out their singles points. Hijikata won his second set 6-2 while Soendergaard won 7-6 to close out the match.
Who stood out?
Blumberg was responsible for two of the Tar Heels points on Sunday, accounting for a doubles victory as well as a singles victory. He managed to take every game in the singles match, finishing his day much earlier than the rest of the players.
Soendergaard also provided two of North Carolina’s seven points on Sunday by way of doubles and singles. Soendergaard, along with Kiger, demonstrated against Virginia Tech why their doubles team is one of the five best in the nation.
When was it decided?
The game was ultimately decided after Peck’s singles victory. Though the Hokies gained another point soon after, the margin was already 3-1 in favor of UNC. The Hokies did not take another point for the remainder of the match.
The team officially sealed the victory with a victory by Soendergaard. With the set knotted up at six games a piece, Soendergaard took the last game to win the set 7-6.
Why does it matter?
With conference play now underway, the Tar Heels will need to find strong momentum away from Chapel Hill. The team will not play another home game until March 20th against Georgia Tech. Establishing a rhythm early in conference play will prove to be vital to the 2nd ranked Tar Heels.
When do they play next?
UNC will travel to Raleigh on March 4 to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack at 4 p.m.
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