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Saturday February 4th

Schedule preview: No. 18 UNC men's tennis prepares for indoor season

UNC graduate Brian Cernoch lunges for the ball on Sunday, April 3 2022 in their match against Georgia Tech.
Buy Photos UNC graduate Brian Cernoch lunges for the ball on Sunday, April 3 2022 in their match against Georgia Tech.

After a promising fall season, the No. 18 North Carolina men’s tennis team is gearing up to take on a competitive schedule of games.

The Tar Heels, who won eight of their last 10 games of the 2022 regular season and made an eighth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament, found success in fall individual play and will look to continue moving forward in the coming season. 

After only graduating two seniors last year and keeping a core contingent of players, the UNC roster is full of talent. The new addition of graduate transfer Ryan Seggerman to the squad only bolstered its depth over the fall, as he proved with several standout performances. 

Seggerman, a transfer from Princeton University partnered with graduate student Brian Cernoch and made a strong run in the ITA All-American tournament in October, making it to the finals before ultimately falling to the then-No. 1 ranked South Carolina doubles team of Toby Samuel and Connor Thomson. This performance helped them to a No. 18 doubles ranking by the end of the fall season — the highest doubles ranking on the team. 

Following the conclusion of fall play, Seggerman represented Team USA at the Master’U BNP Paribas Championships, which pitted collegiate players from eight nations against each other in a knockout-style tournament.

Seggerman was able to come up with multiple key victories, including a match-clinching doubles win in the finals against Great Britain to aid the USA in attaining its 10th tournament title. Both this team victory, and his strong showings on the court over the fall, led to a No. 9 ranking at the end of the fall season. 

The doubles team of first-year Benjamin Kittay and junior Logan Zapp also found success in the fall, making a strong push to the quarterfinals of the ITA regional championships before losing to Duke University. 

The Tar Heels have also added Will Jansen to their 2023 roster in an exciting move for the team. The first-year from London was the under-18 British national champion and has a career high ITF junior ranking of No. 61.

North Carolina will look to utilize the experience that both the new additions to the roster and the returning talent bring in their upcoming matchups in order to make a deep postseason run. They will need to use all the experience that they have, in order to best a grueling slate of opponents.

The team kicks off the indoor season on Thursday, Jan. 19 in Chapel Hill with a doubleheader against Campbell University and N.C. Central University. 

From there, they jump right into their challenging schedule, beginning with a match against No. 10 South Carolina the following Sunday. They will look to use their matches on Thursday as preparation for their upcoming ranked-showdown, which will serve as the first true test of the team's ability against top competition.

The remainder of the season doesn't let up and includes tough matchups against No. 1 Virginia and No. 3 TCU, which the team will have to fight to win. 

In last year's contest against UVA, the Tar Heels fell 2-4 in a hard-fought ACC battle that they were ultimately unable to close out. It served as UNC’s first ACC loss, and put a damper on their season — something the team will have to try to avoid having happen again. 

Additionally, the Tar Heels will face three back-to-back rivalry matchups against No. 19 N.C. State, No. 14 Wake Forest and No. 20 Duke to close out the regular season. The high-pressure matchups will be a test of the Tar Heels mental toughness and ability to handle high-stakes games, which will be important in the postseason.  

This year, it will be crucial for the team to secure big victories to keep the ball rolling and make it past the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament — something the Tar Heels haven't accomplished since 2019.

@PeaceGwen

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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