Following the loss to Wake Forest on Friday, the No. 18 UNC men’s tennis team (14-7, 9-3 ACC) remained on the road to finish out their regular season campaign against No. 20 NC State (17-8, 6-6 ACC) in Raleigh on Easter Sunday. The Tar Heels and Wolfpack played a tough, back and forth match that resulted in a 4-3 win for North Carolina.
In the doubles matches, the Wolfpack took the early lead on all three courts. UNC’s top ten doubles pair of seniors Brian Cernoch and Mac Kiger had been dominant throughout the season, but were shut down by N.C. State’s junior Martins Rocens and first-year Fons Van Sambeek, who defeated the North Carolina pair 6-2.
Redshirt first-year Braden Shick and graduate Collin Shick from the Wolfpack were able to pick up the win against UNC’s senior Benjamin Sigouin and sophomore Peter Murphy, beating the Tar Heels 6-3 and clinching the doubles point for N.C. State to give them the early 1-0 lead.
N.C. State carried their momentum from doubles play into the singles matches, coming out with early leads in set one on each court.
After a close 7-6 win in the first set, Sigouin defeated Rocens 6-0 in the second set for North Carolina’s first point of the day, tying the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels 1-1.
NC State’s sophomore Luca Staeheli came out to a particularly hot start, shutting out UNC’s Kiger 6-0 in the first set. In the second set, Kiger responded well, taking the early 3-2 lead and winning the second set, 6-4, to force a third, where Staeheli defeated Kiger 6-1 and secured another point for the Wolfpack to put them ahead 2-1.
Sophomore Logan Zapp from UNC was able to add another point for the Tar Heels after defeating junior Robin Catry of N.C. State in three sets. N.C. State broke through with another point when NC State YEAR Damien Salvestre defeated North Carolina’s Anuj Watane in two straight sets, putting the Wolfpack up 3-2.
Cernoch came from behind to win set one against the Wolfpack’s senior Rafa Izquierdo Luque, 6-3. The second set also remained close, and resulted in a 7-5 win for Izquierdo Luque. Cernoch came up big for UNC in this set, winning 6-0 and tying the match at three.
Murphy was able to pick up the close win in set one, but Van Sambeek bounced back in the second set. Much like the first two, the third set went back and forth until Murphy pulled ahead to win the final set and lock in the final point for the Tar Heels to defeat the Wolfpack, 4-3.
Who stood out?
Despite losing in his doubles match, Sigouin was able to bounce back and secure a singles win to get the Tar Heels on the board. The first set was a back and forth battle between Sigouin and Rocens from N.C. State, but in the second set Sigouin was able to shut out Rocens for a 6-0 victory.
Cernoch was also dominant and able to bounce back after both his doubles loss and the loss in the second set to earn another point for North Carolina.
When was it decided?
NC State was able to secure the doubles point and came out to a quick lead on nearly all six courts to start the first set of the singles matchups, but the Tar Heels were able to bounce back, led by Sigouin and Cernoch, to keep the match close and force three singles sets on multiple courts.
After Cernoch was able to secure a point and tie the match 3-3, it came down to the final set between UNC’s Murphy and N.C. State’s Van Sambeek, where Murphy was able to secure the point and the win for North Carolina in the final regular season match of the season.
Why does it matter?
The in-state conference foes played back on February 17th in Chapel Hill, where the Wolfpack picked up the 4-3 win. North Carolina was likely looking for a better outcome in this second matchup of the season. UNC was playing from behind all day, but was able to complete the comeback and defeat the Wolfpack to close out regular season play before heading to the ACC Championships later this week.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will head to Rome, Georgia for the ACC Championships, which start on Thursday, April 21.
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