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'We didn't play hungry': UNC men's tennis falls 4-1 to NC State at new tennis center

20230129_Nock_UNCmenstennisvsHarvard-1-4.jpg
UNC sophomore Casey Kania and graduate Ryan Seggerman celebrate during their match against Harvard on Sunday, January 29, 2023, at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. Kania and Seggerman won the match 6-4.

At 9:30 p.m., after almost four and a half hours, the match finally came to an end. 

North Carolina State emerged victorious, beating the UNC men's tennis team 4-1 in a victory in Chapel Hill. 

“They just handled the big moments better I think,” graduate Ryan Seggerman said. “In a match like that, with two teams that are very talented, it comes down to just a few points here and there, and unfortunately we were on the wrong end of them today.”

For the first time, North Carolina taking the court at the newly completed Chewning Tennis Center. And it was clear the Tar Heels weren't completely locked in from the start. 

At the start of their match, the No. 1 doubles pair of Seggerman and sophomore Casey Kania appeared to have the upper hand, taking a 5-3 lead. However, as the crowd began to get louder, and its “Wolfpack” chants got louder, their energy slowly fizzled out, and they allowed their opponents to win four straight games to secure the victory. 

“I messed that up,” Seggerman said. “We were in a good spot to win and I kinda let it get away from us, so I feel definitely pretty responsible for letting that go awry. But, all the same, those guys played really well.”

The No. 2 team of graduate Brian Cernoch and first-year Benjamin Kittay faced similar issues, falling behind early. These woes compounded for the Tar Heels, and they dropped the doubles point to N.C. State, allowing the Wolfpack to control the early momentum. 

Then, it started to rain. 

Inclement weather forced the two teams to pack up and move indoors, resulting in a half-hour intermission in the middle of singles play. 

This break threw off both teams' rhythms, allowing for an almost complete reset of momentum when play resumed. 

N.C. State was able to capitalize on this reset in a much greater way than North Carolina, finding new energy to push ahead in the majority of the matches. 

For Seggerman, who had won the first set 6-4, this shift was especially evident. As soon as the second set began indoors, his opponent seemed to suddenly have his number, trouncing him 6-0 in what Seggerman jokingly dubbed a ‘five-minute set.’

Although Seggerman was ultimately able to rally back and win in the third, his match was a perfect example of what the Tar Heels were lacking. 

“We just got to be a little bit hungrier,” head coach Sam Paul said. “I felt like we didn't play hungry.”

At the end of the day, North Carolina had the chance to win: none of its players appeared overmatched and most remained close to their opponents throughout the four hours. But N.C. State repeatedly proved that they had the extra grit and stamina needed to come out on top. 

With a tough gauntlet of home matches against rivals Wake Forest and Duke quickly approaching, UNC will need to dig deep in order to prove that they too have what it takes to succeed in the postseason. 

“There’s still a lot more matches to be played. But it stings today,” Seggerman said.

@PeaceGwen

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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Gwen Peace

Gwen Peace is the 2023-24 assistant sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as a senior writer. Gwen is a sophomore pursuing a double major in media and journalism and peace, war and defense.