CARY, N.C.— The North Carolina men’s tennis players encountered familiar faces when they took the court against Florida State in Friday's ACC Tournament quarterfinals.
The Tar Heels faced the Seminoles just a week prior and downed them 4-1. However, UNC was left disappointed on Friday after losing 2-4 and becoming eliminated from ACC Championship contention.
The Tar Heels got off on the wrong foot as they forfeited the doubles point with graduate student Ryan Seggerman and sophomore Casey Kania falling to their opponents 1-6 and first-year Will Jansen and graduate student Karl Poling falling 4-6.
Jansen and Poling bested the same opponents in their first matchup with the Seminoles. This time around, Florida State altered their pairings and put their second doubles team up against Seggerman and Kania.
That strategy proved to be successful.
“It’s tough to beat a team twice in a week, and those guys came out and they brought it to us early in doubles,” Seggerman said. “We definitely came out not ourselves, and they took advantage of that and got off to a good start.”
As the end of the match grew nearer, frustration seemed to take its toll on the Tar Heels' performance. Serving errors and wild shots doomed North Carolina and resulted in a disappointing first-match exit from their first postseason competition — all due to inconsistency.
After Jansen won his first set, he dropped the second. The wind quickly began to pick up in the third set, making typically easy rallies more difficult and causing more errors. When Jansen began to miss consecutive hits, it became clear that he was frustrated. This frustration continued to skyrocket and his counterpart took advantage, eventually costing North Carolina the match.
When the match concluded, the team didn't hide their looks of defeat, not even Sam Paul. The UNC head coach said he was confused by the players' lackluster performance at the end of the match. Seggerman also noted that the energy of the team was not where it needed to be, which is one of the reasons why the Tar Heels did not meet their own expectations.
“We came out flat,” Seggerman said. “That’s not the kind of team we are, that’s not how we see ourselves and that’s not how we need to be for the NCAA Tournament.”
Seggerman and Poling were the only two UNC players to produce a win in either the singles or doubles sides of the match. However, they were not satisfied.
“I’m glad we were both able to pull out close singles matches, but I feel guilty,” Seggerman said. “The way we started the match wasn’t how we wanted to.”
While their wins helped move the Tar Heels closer to a potential comeback victory, it fell short.
“Up and down the line, it was difficult compared to last week,” Poling said. “It’s unfortunate, but we have to look forward to the NCAA Tournament and bounce back.”
The Tar Heels now await their NCAA Tournament bid. After their performance in Cary, Paul made it clear that the team has a fair amount of work to do.
“A lot of doubles stuff,” Paul said regarding any specific part of the game he wants to focus on. “We just didn’t attack the ball in doubles, we have to stop it.”
If North Carolina wants to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, the inconsistency issues seen at the ACC Tournament must be resolved. The Tar Heels have to come out with the energy they have had all season to perform their best against the handful of top opponents they could potentially face.
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