Continuing today and concluding on July 18, GoHeels.com will count down the top 25 games of the 2013-14 academic year. To catch up on the previous entries, click here.
No. 6: Carolina 4, Georgia 2 - Men's Tennis, May 16, 2014
Imagine facing UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in the Final Four. Or playing LSU at Alex Box Stadium in the College World Series. Or advancing to the national championship game and traveling to the Big House to take on Michigan. The advantage for the home team in those scenarios would be incredible.
But when Carolina faced Georgia in the round of 16 of the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship, that was exactly the tall task ahead of the Tar Heels. Georgia men's tennis has played for the team title 13 times and the Bulldogs have won it on six occasions. And because the Dan Magill Tennis Complex is one of the nation's finest facilities, UGA has been the final site host more than 30 times.
So despite being a higher seed, UNC was a decided underdog when the Tar Heels faced No. 10 seed Georgia for a spot in the national quarterfinals.
Even before advancing to Athens, Carolina men's tennis had put together one of the biggest turnarounds in all of college sports in 2014. After suffering through a frustrating 12-13 campaign a year ago, the Tar Heels brought in the nation's top recruiting class and surged to a 24-5 record entering NCAA competition. A runner-up finish in the ACC tournament helped UNC earn a No. 7 national seed and the right to host first and second round competition.
Wins over South Carolina State and South Carolina sent the Tar Heels to the final site for the fourth time since 2006, and there in Athens awaited the Bulldogs.
As always, the doubles point would prove critical, especially in the hostile territory of Henry Feild Stadium. It was two of UNC's vaunted freshmen - Jack Murray and Ronnie Schneider - who got the first win of the day, thumping Georgia 7-1 in a tiebreak at No. 3 doubles. For the clinching win, Brayden Schnur, a third freshman, teamed with sophomore Brett Clark at No. 1 doubles, and they upset No. 8 Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland, 8-6.
The Bulldogs responded in a big way to start singles, winning in straight sets on courts three and six to take a 2-1 lead in the dual. With momentum building for the hosts, Carolina managed to take the opening set on the other four courts to stay in control despite falling behind.
Schneider pulled the Tar Heels even with a two-set win on court two before Schnur outlasted No. 23 Austin Smith in three sets on court one to put UNC back in front.
From there it was Clark who clinched Carolina's first trip to the quarters since 1992 with a record-breaking victory. The Naples, Florida, sophomore beat No. 70 Garrett Brasseaux in a second-set tiebreak for his 37th singles win of the year. Match point was an ace (see below) and gave Clark the most victories in a season for a Tar Heel in school history, passing former All-America performers Roland Thornqvist and Nick Monroe.
Carolina would fall to eventual national runner-up Oklahoma in the quarterfinals, but the Tar Heels' performance in Athens left no doubt about their place in the national hierarchy. And with just two seniors on the 2013-14 roster, UNC will have high hopes for a trip to Waco, Texas, and a return to the NCAA final site in 2015.
No. 7: Carolina 4, NC State 3 - Baseball, May 20, 2014
No. 8: Carolina 85, NC State 84 (OT) - Men's Basketball, Feb. 26, 2014
No. 9: Carolina 27, NC State 19 - Football, Nov. 2, 2013
No. 10: Carolina 3, Duke 0 - Women's Soccer, Oct. 31, 2013
No. 11: Carolina Completes Road Sweep Of Duke And NC State - Women's Basketball, Feb. 10 and 16, 2014
No. 12: Carolina 11, Maryland 8 - Men's Lacrosse, March 22, 2014
No. 13: Carolina 4, Virginia 2 - Baseball, April 20, 2014
No. 14: Carolina 4, Duke 1 - Men's Tennis, April 26, 2014
No. 15: Carolina 1, Virginia 0 - Men's Soccer, Nov. 1, 2013
No. 16: Carolina 45, Virginia 14 - Football, Nov. 9, 2013
No. 17: Carolina 17, Maryland 15 - Women's Lacrosse, April 5, 2014
No. 18: Carolina 2, Connecticut 1 - Field Hockey, Oct. 26, 2013
No. 19: Henderson's All-America Run At NCAAs - Wrestling, March 20-22, 2014
No. 20: Carolina 5, Virginia 2 - Women's Tennis, March 8, 2014
No. 21: Carolina 3, Illinois 0 - Volleyball, Sept. 20, 2013
No. 22: Carolina 93, Louisville 84 - Men's Basketball, Nov. 24, 2013
No. 23: Carolina Men, LeHardy Shine At XC Nationals - Cross Country, Nov. 23, 2013
No. 24: Carolina Sweeps Rivals To End Home Schedule - Men's Swimming and Diving, Jan. 25 and 31, 2014
No. 25: Carolina 12, Virginia Tech 8 - Softball, March 2, 2014