The No. 18 UNC men’s tennis team (13-7, 8-3) lost its five-game win streak with a 4-1 loss at No. 8 Wake Forest (29-5, 10-1) on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s matchup in Winston-Salem began with doubles play. Wake Forest was awarded the first point after winning two of the three doubles matches. UNC first-year Casey Kania and sophomore Logan Zapp fell 6-3, and senior Benjamin Sigouin and sophomore Peter Murphy lost in a close 7-6 match.
North Carolina was able to secure one of the doubles matchups with the help of seniors No. 8 Brian Cernoch and Mac Kiger, who pulled off a 6-3 win. Regardless of this, the two doubles losses led to the Tar Heels entering singles play down 1-0.
Cernoch and Kiger continued to lead the Tar Heels in singles play with little help from their teammates. No. 33 Cernoch had a dominant 6-2 win in his first set. His doubles partner Kiger also continued to contribute to UNC with a 6-3 win in his first set. Zapp, Murphy and Sigouin were unsuccessful in their first set of singles, just as they had been in doubles. Junior Anuj Watane also struggled in his first singles set, falling 6-3.
Zapp was the first to finish his singles match, losing in two sets to give the Deacons their second point. Wake Forest acquired its third and fourth points when Murphey and Sigouin also lost their matches in the second set. Cernoch fell 6-2 in his second single set, but was able to put the Tar Heels on the scoreboard with a 7-6 win in the third set.
Despite Kiger’s strong start on Saturday, he struggled in his second singles set and suffered a 6-1 loss. His match went to a third set, but the set was abandoned when any chance of a North Carolina comeback was lost. Watane’s singles match was also abandoned, and Wake Forest ended the match with a 4-1 win.
Who stood out?
Cernoch and Kiger served as the most significant contributors to the Tar Heels on Saturday. The ranked doubles duo had the only doubles match win for UNC, though it didn’t earn the team a place on the scoreboard.
Cernoch also gave North Carolina its only point of the day by pulling off a close singles win in three sets. Kiger was on his way to also winning his singles match in its third set, up 4-2, when the match was abandoned. The seniors fought hard for the Tar Heels on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to secure a win.
When was it decided?
Wake Forest dominated for the majority of this match. Though Cernoch and Kiger represented UNC well in doubles play, it wasn’t enough to gain the doubles point. Both of the doubles stars looked as though they may turn things around for the Tar Heels in singles matchups, but North Carolina's players found it difficult to keep up with the Deacons in singles.
Why does it matter?
Before today’s loss, UNC had won seven of its previous eight matches, including five consecutive wins. The loss to Wake Forest ended this winning streak late in the regular season. The Tar Heels only have one regular season match left at No. 20 N.C. State on Sunday. After that, UNC will head to the ACC Championships in Rome, GA.
North Carolina will need to have a stronger performance on Sunday in order to end the regular season on a high note before the ACC Championships.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will close the regular season with an ACC matchup at N.C. State on Sunday.
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