The UNC men’s tennis team (6-5) had its third straight match in Chapel Hill on Sunday, where they recorded a 4-2 loss against No. 18 Virginia (8-5).
North Carolina and Virginia faced off at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday at the Chapel Hill Tennis Club. The match began with doubles. Virginia scored the first point, beating Tar Heels’ Benjamin Sigouin and Peter Murphy 6-3. A close doubles match between UNC’s No. 4 Brian Cernoch and Mac Kiger and the Cavaliers' No. 17 Chris Rodesch and Ryan Goetz resulted in a 7-6 Virginia win to acquire the point.
The Tar Heels won the coin toss and chose to receive for their singles matchups. Cernoch dominated in singles, acquiring the first three games against Rodesch and eventually winning the set 6-3. However, on the other courts, North Carolina struggled. The only other Tar Heel to win their first set was Anuj Watane, who also won 6-3. The other four matchups resulted in North Carolina losses in the first set.
Things looked up some for UNC as they entered the second set of singles play. After losing his first set, Sigouin won the second. Virginia advanced their lead to 3-0 when Kiger lost his singles match 6-3, 6-3 and Henry Lieberman lost 6-2, 6-1. UNC put themselves on the scoreboard when Cernoch won his singles match 6-3, 6-4. Watane also won his singles match in two sets 6-3, 6-3, narrowing the score to 3-2. However, North Carolina’s Logan Zapp lost his match in two sets 6-4, 7-5. With no chance for the Tar Heels to come back, the match ended prematurely and resulted in a 4-2 Cavaliers win.
Who stood out?
Cernoch stood out for UNC during Sunday’s match. Though his doubles team lost, he put up a strong performance that kept him and his partner in the match until its final set, which they ultimately lost 7-6. He served as one of the strongest singles performers in the Virginia face off as well, winning 6-3, 6-4, and he awarded North Carolina its first point.
Watane also put on an admirable performance for the Tar Heels today. He showed out for his singles match, giving UNC its much-needed second point by winning the match in two sets 6-3, 6-3.
When was it decided?
Doubles matches looked relatively evenly-matched, particularly on court one, where the match stayed tied or close to tied for its entirety. Though Virginia walked away with the point, the match was nowhere near decided.
However, singles did not look promising for the Tar Heels. They lost four of their six first sets and quickly allowed Virginia to advance to a 3-0 lead. Though they were able to put themselves on the scoreboard, North Carolina struggled significantly in singles, making it seem as though this match was decided.
Why does it matter?
UNC has struggled so far this season. By the first weekend in March, they have recorded as many losses as they did in the entirety of the 2020-21 season. With the ACC tournament approaching at the end of April, North Carolina needs more wins under their belt. Today’s matchup against an ACC opponent did not provide much hope that the Tar Heels can keep up with strong-performing conference teams.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will hit the road this week for Friday’s match at No. 21 Miami.
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