This weekend, the UM men’s tennis team rose to the occasion.
The squad beat No. 14 Duke 4-3 to keep their ACC hopes alive Friday afternoon at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center . It is the first Top 20 team they beat this season.
“I am so proud of the boys,” said head coach Mario Rincon. “This year has been rough on all of us to stay in the race we needed to beat duke”
It was up to junior Christian Blocker to give the Hurricanes their biggest win of the season. The singles star upset No. 86 Reid Carleton. Blocker got the tough win 6-3, 6-7 (10-8), 6-4.
“Everybody can win one point, if the other guys hadn’t won points then I couldn’t have clenched the match,” said Blocker. “I couldn’t lose this match because it was a huge thing for us and we needed it.”
No. 71 doubles duo of Blocker and senior David Simon played a solid game against the No. 1 duo of Henrique Cunha and Carleton. They were even through four games before finally falling 8-5.
Sophomore Ignacio Taboada and senior Carl Sundberg were able to win their match 8-6 to split the doubles matches. Senior Hector Nieto and junior Keith Crowley played tough against the higher ranked duo of No. 64 Dylan Arnould and David Holland, falling 8-5 and giving the Blue Devils the 1-0 lead in the match.
Crowley had a tough straight set loss 6-2, 6-4 against No. 104 Arnould to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead. Senior David Simon quickly countered with his own straight set win 6-3, 6-2 to pull the Canes to within 1.
Sundberg was unable to hold off No. 3 Henrique Cunha losing 6-4, 6-3 and giving Duke the 3-1 lead. The first to respond under pressure was junior Waylon Chin who won a tough three set match 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 against Duke’s Jared Pinsky.
Taboada was able to rely on his strong serve and Coach Rincon’s support to overcome a slow start to beat Duke’s Luke Marchese 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) and tie the match.
“[Ignacio Taboada] sometimes forgets what his game plan is so I just need to bring him back to what he needs to do,” said Rincon. “Today he said after this match he’s a different player. “
Many of his teammates stormed the court to embrace Blocker after his win which gives the Canes much necessary confidence at the end the year.
“It’s huge for us,” said Simon, “The whole team now knows we can beat top twenty teams.”
The Hurricanes Sunday game against North Carolina was canceled due to rain. The Canes will take part in the ACC tournament in North Carolina from Apr. 22-25.
Debora Rubi may be contacted at email@example.com.