On Nov. 8, 2008, senior All-American and third-ranked singles player Daniel Vallverdu suffered a pectoral injury at the ITA National Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va.
It was a nuisance that would keep him out for the first eight matches of the season and change the complexion of the then No. 17 men’s tennis team.
Pair that with an injury to senior David Rosenfeld, the Hurricanes’ No. 2, and it was the young guys and newcomers who were forced to make an immediate impact on a depleted squad.
Freshman Ignacio Taboada stepped up to the challenge, winning his first six collegiate singles matches. Since then, however, he has struggled, losing six straight. With the return of Vallverdu and Rosenfeld, “Nacho” has dropped to either the fourth or sixth slot, instead of the third position he found success in while the two were out.
The team needs him back on track if it hopes to go far.
Sophomore Christian Blocker took over the duties at No. 1 to begin the spring and has also struggled. He has since found comfort in the second slot, is ranked No. 117 and looks more at ease on the court.
Now No. 29 Vallverdu seems to be getting back to form, as is Rosenfeld as the team’s No. 3, as he clinched the Hurricanes’ last two victories.
No. 90 sophomore Carl Sundberg has proven to be the most consistent Hurricane, winning his first eight matches and 11 of his last 13, while sophomore transfer David Simon has won eight of 11.
More importantly, head coach Mario Rincon found winning doubles tandems in Vallverdu/Rosenfeld and Blocker/Simon.
Riding a two-game winning streak after upsetting both No. 28 Duke and No. 34 North Carolina, 4-3, on the road, the Canes (8-6, 4-1) have six games remaining in the regular season, starting this weekend with a pair of key home ACC matches against top-ranked Virginia and No. 21 Virginia Tech at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.
There’s no better time to get hot than down the stretch for a 36th-ranked team starting to put the pieces back together.