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Thursday July 7th

UNC men's tennis falls to Virginia in ACC Championship final

<p>DTH File. Sophomore Logan Zapp returns a serve with a forehand swing during his doubles match against Georgia Tech on Sunday, April 3, 2022.</p>
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DTH File. Sophomore Logan Zapp returns a serve with a forehand swing during his doubles match against Georgia Tech on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

After advancing to the ACC Championship finals, the North Carolina men’s tennis team (16-8, 9-3 ACC) lost 4-3 to the Virginia (21-5, 12-0 ACC) to place second in the 2022 ACC Championship.

What happened?

The Tar Heels were the third seed entering the ACC tournament and opened up play in the ACC Championship held in Rome, Ga. on Friday with a match vs. N.C. State.  

North Carolina defeated N.C. State on Friday in a tight match by a score of 4-3. The Tar Heels then moved on to the semifinals where they were matched up against No. 10 Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets had a surprising upset over Wake Forest on Friday, but the Tar Heels won smoothly at a score of 4-1.

They got off to a solid start after the teams of seniors Brian Cernoch and Mac Kiger, and first-year Casey Kania and sophomore Logan Zapp defeated their opponents to claim the doubles point.

Cernoch lost his singles match early, but UNC later won three straight singles matches with victories from sophomore Peter Murphy, Kiger, and junior Anuj Watane. With this win, the team secured a spot in the finals held on Sunday morning.

North Carolina’s matchup against Virginia in the ACC final felt all too familiar to the team's 4-3 defeat to the Cavaliers last year in Rome.

The Tar Heels lost the first doubles match to finish after Kania and Zapp were taken down 6-2. However, the teams of Cernoch and Kiger and Murphy and Sigouin won their matches by scores of 7-5 and 7-6 respectively to secure the doubles point.

Virginia proved dominant in singles play. Court 6 was the first to finish where Murphy lost in two sets by scores of 6-3 and 6-1 to his opponent. The Cavaliers got two more consecutive wins to bring the score to 3-1.

Things momentarily looked better for UNC as Watane and Cernoch won their matches to bring the score to 3-3. But it all came down to Sigouin’s match on court two. 

The match was back and forth. Sigouin lost the first set 6-4 and then won the second set 6-2. When the third set tied 6-6 it came down to the tiebreaker to determine the match and the ACC Tournament winner. Sigouin lost the tiebreaker by a score of 7-3, giving Virginia the ACC victory.

Who stood out? 

Against Virginia, Cernoch was a standout performer. He was the only UNC player to earn points for the team in both the doubles and singles rounds.

Despite his narrow loss in a tiebreaker that lost the championship, Sigouin’s doubles and singles play was imperative for the Tar Heels' advancement and success through the entirety of the ACC Tournament.

When was it decided?

It came down to a tiebreaker in the final singles match to determine the ACC champion. UNC and Virginia both played excellent tennis in an even matchup as they fought for every point to determine a winner.

Why does it matter?

As North Carolina moves deeper into the postseason, they will need to quickly brush off this loss and build on the momentum from their prior wins. This will be a turning point as they work to build off their wins against Georgia Tech and NC State. 

Prior to the Virginia loss, they had won eight of the last nine matches and were playing their best tennis of the season. It’s crucial that they remain focused and sharp for NCAA regionals in the coming weeks.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will await their placement for NCAA regional competition held May 6-8. Based on their performance they will then advance to the NCAA Super Regionals May 13-14 and the NCAA Championships hosted by the University of Illinois May 19-28.  

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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