Although the final score of the night was not in its favor, the No. 14 UNC men's tennis team emerged from their match against No. 3 TCU with their heads held high.
The 3-4 loss at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center had gone down to the wire, and up until the end, looked as if it could swing either way. For the Tar Heels, that feat alone gave them hope for the future. Going into the match, they knew the Horned Frogs would be difficult to beat. The team, which boasts a roster of highly-skilled international players, is one of the favorites for an NCAA title in the spring.
UNC was aware the match would be the first true test of how it stacks up against one of the best teams in the nation.
“I think we’re a really good team, and we’re knocking on the door,” graduate player Brian Cernoch said. “We showed that today even though we didn't get the win.”
Doubles play for the Tar Heels got off to a shaky start, with both the No. 2 and No. 3 courts dropping their matches to allow TCU to get the first point on the board. The duo of graduate transfer Ryan Seggerman and sophomore Casey Kania overcame the national No. 4 doubles team in a 6-4 victory.
Ultimately, though, it would prove to be the doubles point that made the difference between winning and losing for the team — something that was not lost on head coach Sam Paul.
“We’re just not playing complete matches yet in doubles so we gotta keep working on that,” he said. “We’re gonna get tougher.”
Coming out of the first portion of the match at a disadvantage, the Tar Heels needed to step up in singles to have a chance at besting the Horned Frogs. However, both Cernoch and Seggerman dropped the first set by a significant margin.
Cernoch, facing No. 8 Jake Fearnley, trailed 2-6 after being unable to match his opponent's extreme consistency from the baseline. His anger was evident, as he threw his hands up and shook his head after every ball hit into the net or out of bounds.