Coming off of a big double-header win on Wednesday, the No. 23 North Carolina men’s tennis team (5-1) defeated the No. 13 South Carolina Gamecocks (9-1) 4-2 in nail-biting matches on Sunday in Chapel Hill.
The Tar Heels had a fantastic start to the contest, winning both the first and second doubles match to secure the doubles point.
The shining first doubles pair of seniors Brian Cernoch and Mac Kiger was close right out of the gate, but the UNC tennis stars were able to pull away with a 7-5 victory. After this match the crowd, was hyped up.
The second doubles pair of sophomore Logan Zapp and first-year Casey Kania defeated the Gamecocks with a score of 7-5. The Tar Heels battled with South Carolina throughout the set, but they were able to finish it off with an early victory, finishing before Cernoch and Kiger.
The third doubles pair of two more seniors, Benjamin Sigouin and Henry Lieberman, ended early due to North Carolina’s majority win.
The Tar Heels and Gamecocks had very close singles matches right out of the gate as well. One that wasn’t so close involved junior Anuj Watane, as he put the Tar Heels on the board winning 6-2, 6-3. Cernoch, who was fresh off his doubles victory, played a very tough singles match. He came out with a 7-6, 6-1, 6-4 win.
UNC’s dominance stayed visible when Kiger came out hot, winning his match 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Zapp did not finish his match, but he was in the midst of a major comeback, with scores of 6-2 ,7-5, 4-3. First singles, Sigouin could not catch a break with his opponent No. 14 Daniel Rodrigues. Sigouin could not grasp the point for UNC and lost 6-3, 5-4. The Tar Heels 4th singles, Lieberman did not earn a point for the Heels. He lost 6-4, 6-3 and 2-6.
Who stood out?
Cernoch, who usually plays first singles, had a huge victory that was very important for the Tar Heels win against South Carolina. His victory in the doubles match along with his singles victory propelled North Carolina to its win.
When was it decided?
Starting off with the three doubles matches, early on, we knew that this match would be close between the two ranked competitors. The Tar Heels confidence skyrocketed as soon as they secured the doubles point early on. With many tough matches being forced to go to three sets, ultimately Cernoch’s win secured the Tar Heels top 20 and much needed victory.
Why does it matter?
This year the Tar Heels did not qualify for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship which they won last year. Every match win helps to continue to boost their confidence for the several matches ahead. After the win, UNC advances to 5-1 and with a win against a quality team like South Carolina gives the Tar Heels a chance to move up the rankings.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels look to maintain their consistent success at home as they face another rival, the NC State Wolfpack on Thursday.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.