Tar Heels Blank Tennessee For Sweet 16 Bid
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The 15th-ranked University of North Carolina men’s tennis team is headed back to the NCAA Sweet 16 after beating 17th-ranked Tennessee 4-0 Sunday afternoon at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. This is Carolina’s third NCAA Sweet 16 appearance since 2006 and its first since 2008.
UNC will meet the University of Georgia, the No. 2 seed and NCAA Tournament host, Friday at 7 p.m. in the NCAA Sweet 16. Since the NCAA Tournament went to a team format in 1977, UNC has nowmade Sweet 16 appearances in 1977, 1978, 1992, 1993, 2006, 2008 and 2012. It was also a great way for UNC’s five seniors — Alex Rafiee, Zach Hunter, Brennan Boyajian, Joey Burkhardt and Cameron Ahari — to close out their home careers. This group had dropped NCAA Round of 32 matches on the road in each of the past three years.
It was Boyajian, the senior from Weston, Fla., who came through with the clinching win just as he has done in so many big matches for the Tar Heels this year. He dispatched Hunter Reese, the nation’s 72nd-ranked player, 6-1, 6-3 after the match had been moved permanently indoors at 6:10 p.m.
Freshman Esben Hess-Olesen had provided the first Tar Heel singles win as he triumphed outdoors before the second set of rain halted play. Hess-Olesen downed Brandon Fickey of UT 6-3, 6-1. UNC’s other singles win came at #6 singles as Oystein Steiro won the first set 6-2 and led 3-0 in the second set before Taylor Patrick rallied to take a 6-5 lead. Steiro broke at 5-6 and then won the tiebreaker 7-2.
On the other courts, Tennessee had won the first set on court one and UNC on court five. Joey Burkhardt and Jarryd Chaplin of UT had split sets at #4 singles and were tied in the third set when play was halted.
Carolina had to persevere through a 2-hour, 25-minute rain delway to win the doublespoint. All three matches were still on the court when rain. At #1 doubles, UNC’s 20th-ranked tandem of Joey Burkhardt and Jose Hernandez broke the 12th-ranked team of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese at 3-2 and went on to win 8-3. That match ended 10 minutes after play resumed after the long rain delay. Both #1 doubles teams are headed to the NCAA Tournament with individual bids.
Meanwhile, on court #3, the UNC duo of Zach Hunter and Esben Hess-Olesen broke serve at 4-4 and ended up winning the final five games of the match, triumphing by an 8-4 tally.
Against common opponents, UNC was 4-2 and Tennessee was 3-2.
This was the first meeting between the two teams since the 2000 NCAA Tournament second round in Knoxville, Tenn., when UT beat the Tar Heels. UNC assistant coach Tripp Phillips played #1 singles in that match for Carolina.
Match had two rain delays totaling 2:50 minutes. The first from 1:50 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The second from 5:40 p.m. to 6:10 p.m.
North Carolina, Tennessee
Doubles (Team Winning Majority Of Matches Earns One Team Point)
Order of match finish: 1, 3, DNF
1. #20 Jose Hernandez and Joey Burkhardt (UNC) d. #12 Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese (TENN), 8-3
2. Brennan Boyajian and Cameron Ahari (UNC) led Jarryd Chaplin and Edward Jones (TENN), 7-6, DNF
3. Esben Hess-Olesen and Zach Hunter (UNC) d. Peter Nagovnak and Bryan Swartz (TENN), 8-4
Singles (One Team Point Per Singles Match)
Order of match finish: 3, 6, 2
1. #28 Mikelis Libietis (TENN) led #26 Jose Hernandez (UNC), 6-4, 4-5, DNF
2. #92 Brennan Boyajian (UNC) d. #72 Hunter Reese (TENN), 6-1, 6-3
3. Esben Hess-Olesen (UNC) d. Brandon Fickey (TENN), 6-3, 6-1
4. Joey Burkhardt (UNC) vs. Jarryd Chaplin (TENN), 5-7, 6-2, 1-1, DNF
5. William Parker (UNC) led Edward Jones (TENN), 6-2, 4-5, DNF
6. Oystein Steiro (UNC) d. Taylor Patrick (TENN), 6-2, 7-6 (2)
Records: North Carolina 15-7, Tennessee 15-14