The No. 23 North Carolina men’s tennis team (4-1) swept both matches in its doubleheader on Wednesday, defeating both Wofford (0-7) and N.C. Central (0-5), 7-0, at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.
UNC opened up the day with doubles play against Wofford. Sophomore Logan Zapp and first-year Casey Kania defeated Ashe Ray and Alex Horn 6-2. Then, sophomore Peter Murphy and senior Benjamin Sigouin fell to Will Fullett and Mark Endler, 6-3. To secure the point for the doubles portion of the match, seniors Mac Kiger and Brian Cernoch defeated Bryce Keim and Callum Rendle 6-4, putting the Tar Heels up 1-0.
North Carolina won all six of its singles matches, with Kiger, senior Henry Lieberman, Sigouin, junior Anuj Watane and Zapp winning in straight sets. After the No. 87 ranked Cernoch cruised to a 6-2 set over Rendle, Rendle eked out a win in the second set.
Tied six games apiece, Rendle clinched the tiebreaker 7-5 to send the singles match to a third set, a 10-point tiebreaker. Cernoch decisively won 10-5.
The doubleheader continued in the evening against N.C. Central, seeing similar results. This time, the Tar Heels swept doubles play, with Lieberman and Sigouin trouncing LaQuon Gilchrist and Shaka Cristellotti 6-2. Shortly after, Murphy and Cernoch beat Oliver Saarinen and Sebastian Pino 6-2.
The Tar Heels swept all six of their singles matches to cap off the day, with Cernoch, Watane, Sigouin, Zapp, Murphy and Lieberman picking up wins. As a team, UNC played 83 total singles games and dropped only 11.
Who stood out?
Kiger, Sigouin, Lieberman, Zapp and Watane had dominant performances, not losing a single set the entire day. Moreover, Sigouin and Watane never let their opponents win more than two games in any set during the day, with Watane not dropping any games against N.C. Central.
When was it decided?
The Tar Heels officially clinched the Wofford match when Sigouin defeated Ray, 6-2 and 6-2, to earn the team’s fourth point of the afternoon. Although the Terriers managed to steal a doubles match and tightly contest the Tar Heels at times during singles play, UNC’s depth provided a firm lead through its four singles sweeps.
As for the N.C. Central match, it was Sigouin again who ousted Amit Baran, 6-0 and 6-1, to notch the team’s fourth point of the evening.
Why does it matter?
Coming off a tough loss against top-ranked Ohio State, the ease with which the Tar Heels are winning is a good sign. The doubleheader against unranked, non-conference opponents provided a chance for the team to transition into Sunday’s match against No. 13 South Carolina — a pair of “get-right” matches.
South Carolina boasts a robust singles player in No. 14 Daniel Rodrigues, who also makes up one half of the Gamecocks’ No. 5 doubles team.
But the challenges don’t end there. After playing South Carolina, UNC will clash with strong teams at home three more times — two conference matches against No. 7 Virginia and Virginia Tech, and Columbia, which features No. 8 singles player Alex Kotzen.
Even though Wofford and N.C. Central haven’t won any matches, a win is a win. And as the Tar Heels prepare to face another ranked team, a win was all they needed today.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels are slated to play another home match against No. 13 South Carolina on Sunday, Feb. 13 at 1 p.m.
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