The No. 15 UNC men's tennis team (18-9 , 9-3 ACC) was defeated by the No. 2 Florida Gators (26-2 ,12-0 SEC), 4-0, in Gainesville, Florida in the NCAA Super Regionals.
After a two-hour lightning delay, the match was finally on and began with intense doubles play.
In a top-25 matchup, UNC’s No. 16 duo of seniors Brian Cernoch and Mac Kiger took on the No. 5 duo of senior Sam Riffice and sophomore Ben Shelton in match one. This highly anticipated matchup went down to the wire with Riffice and Shelton pulling it out 6-4.
In match two, UNC’s first-year Casey Kania and sophomore Logan Zapp took on senior Andy Andrade and graduate Mattias Siimar, a Florida pair ranked No. 65 in doubles. Kania and Zapp won 6-2 in an upset win.
It came down to match three, where UNC seniors Henry Lieberman and Benjamin Sigouin took on first-year Nate Bonetto and senior Duarte Vale. This was the first time Sigouin and Lieberman played together since March 21. Vale and Bonetto forced a tiebreaker against the Tar Heels and pulled it out 7-6(2) for their 21st doubles point in a row.
Florida went up 1-0 in the match and headed to singles.
In singles, No. 2 Shelton defeated No. 33. Cernoch, 6-0, 6-1 to give the Gators their second point of the day.
On court six, Florida’s senior Josh Goodger defeated North Carolina’s Lieberman, 6-1, 6-2.
This put the Gators up 3-0 on the day and all they needed was one more point.
With four matches left, Vale was up 6-4 and 5-4 over Kiger and needed one more point to put the match in the books.
Vale went up 15-0, and Kiger was just trying to get to the third set to help the Tar Heels get a point on the board. Kiger struck back to tie 15-15 and then went up 30-15. Vale tied it up 30-30 and then went up 40-30. Kiger came back and won the point to tie it 5-5 in set two. Then Vale won in a tie-breaker and won 7-6.
This gave Florida its fourth point and the Gators won the match 4-0.
Who stood out?
Kania and Zapp got the Tar Heels on the board in the doubles but Florida ultimately took the doubles point to go up 1-0.
No. 2 Shelton put on an unbelievable singles performance. One of the best in the country, Shelton showed out for his home crowd in Gainesville, winning with a score of 6-0, 6-1.
When was it decided?
When the Gators went up 2-0, they never looked back. Florida hasn’t lost since Feb. 18, and they weren’t going to lose tonight.
Why does it matter?
Win and advance, lose and go home.
Coming into the match, the Gators were winners of their last 20 matches. In the tournament they have so far defeated New Orleans, 4-0, and No. 29 Miami, 4-0.
As for the Tar Heels, they came in as winners of their last two matches against Navy, 4-1, and Arizona, 4-1. A win against Florida would have matched North Carolina up with Virginia, who the Tar Heels lost to, 4-3, in the ACC Tournament.
When do they play next?
The North Carolina Tar Heels are done for the season. The Florida Gators will play the No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.