Cavs too tough for Tar Heels
The UNC men’s tennis team blew into the ACC Championship finals on huge rivalry wins over N.C. State and Duke that put a bit of swagger in its game.
But it was all over in a flash Sunday, the buoyant run extinguished by defending national champion Virginia.
The Cavaliers, ranked No. 4 nationally, extended their eight-year unbeaten streak against ACC rivals to 121 games, winning their eighth consecutive ACC title and 10th in the past 11 years. The Cavs won two of three doubles matches to pick up a team point, and won in straight sets at No. 1, 3, and 5 to upend UNC 4-0.
“Being second in ACC is nothing to be ashamed about, especially when you’re losing to a great team like Virginia. They’re as good as it gets,” said Tar Heels No. 2 player Ronnie Schneider, a freshman.
“But, you know, avenging the loss twice to Duke in the regular season (on Saturday) to end that on a high note is what we want,” Schneider said. “To take out one of our biggest rivals on the way to the finals is fun.”
“I’m proud of my team, ” UNC coach Sam Paul said. “We came up short today. We didn’t accomplish what we came to do. But obviously we congratulate Virginia. They’re very good. They were the better team today.”
While the 4-0 score looks dominant on paper, Paul said, the match, especially in doubles, was closer on the court.
Virginia coach Brian Boland said the ACC “is really strong this year. … Duke and Carolina have been in the top 10 off and on, and of course Carolina spent most of the year on the top 10.”
Boland said the difference in the match was straight-set wins by his No. 1 player, senior Alex Domijan, over Schnur and No. 3 player Ryan Shane over UNC’s Clark.
A “big momentum changer” occurred in the No. 3 doubles match when Justin Shane and Mitchell Frank downed Schneider and freshman Jack Murray, despite Justin Shane having a “tweaked knee,” Boland said.
Schneider said he was pleased to be leading Frank, the nation’s No. 4 ranked singles player, in their unfinished singles match when the Cavaliers clinched.
“Even though it doesn’t go down in the books as I won, it’s a good confidence builder” headed into the postseason, as the Tar Heels, now 24-5, try to match and break the single-season team-win record of 25, Schneider said.
“Hopefully we can keep going (with) a run as deep as possible” in the NCAA Tournament, with the team hoping to host regionals in Chapel Hill, Schneider said.