The North Carolina men’s tennis team started off its season on Sunday with an exhibition match at the Tar Heel Invitational. The Tar Heels hosted the three-day event at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center in Chapel Hill.
They faced off against the Tennessee, UNC-Charlotte, and Wofford in singles and doubles matches, showing their potential and setting the precedent for the upcoming season after finishing last year ranked No. 2.
On the opening day of the Tar Heel Invitational, UNC finished strong, going 3-1 in singles and 2-1 in doubles. However, the team struggled the following day, with only one singles win compared to four losses and a 1-2 record in doubles.
The Tar Heels were outperformed by the Volunteers on day two, as they picked up four singles and two doubles wins. UNC was back on top for the last day of the exhibition tournament, going 2-1 in doubles and 4-1 in singles against Charlotte.
Who stood out?
On Sunday, first-years Peter Murphy and Logan Zapp and sophomore Anuj Watane won their respective single matches. Murphy was victorious again in doubles, when he and senior Simon Soendergaard pulled off a win.
Senior William Blumberg and first-year Adam Neff also won their doubles matchup. Blumberg and Neff continued to thrive in the following days of the Invitational, earning the Tar Heels their only doubles win on Monday and winning their doubles match again on Tuesday.
Watane was UNC’s only singles win on Monday, making a comeback to beat Tennessee’s Joel Gamerov with a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 win. He earned another singles victory on the last day of the Tar Heel Invitational, as did Blumberg, Murphy, and Mark Dillon. Along with Blumberg and Neff’s doubles win on Tuesday, Murphy and Soendergaard were able to get themselves another doubles win as well.
When was it decided?
At no point was the Tar Heel Invitational truly decided until the final day was complete. Though the Tar Heels had a strong opening day, they struggled on Monday against the Volunteers. They were able to redeem themselves again on the third and final day of the Invitational, setting themselves up for success with the start of the official season looming.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heel Invitational served as the first event this season for UNC, providing an opportunity to ready up for competition. This three day exhibition served as a warm-up for the rest of the year to come, which is especially important with the team's last competition being in March, 2020. Several first-years, including Murphy, Zapp and Neff proved that they have the potential to be significant contributors to the talented North Carolina group moving forward.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will play again from Jan. 16-18 before entering their dual match schedule.
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