With the third-round win, UNC improved to 27-4 on the season, just a victory shy of last season's school-record wins total. “We played well all the way up and down the line, so I am really happy about the performance today,” Tar Heel coach Sam Paul said. “We knew they weren't quitting and we stepped up and got a great win. I am just really happy to be moving on.”
On a warm evening on the University of Georgia's home courts, Carolina won the doubles point on a tiebreaker on Court 1 after the teams split the other two matches. UNC's 12th-ranked team of junior Robert Kelly and freshman William Blumberg beat California's fifth-ranked Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi, claiming the tiebreaker 7-2 to take the match 7-6.
UNC 1 Cal 0 UNC wins 2 pts on Lakat serve to take TB 7-2 pic.twitter.com/T8NScxPTUI— UNC Men's Tennis (@carolinatennis) May 18, 2017
After a hard fight for the doubles point, UNC ran out to a quick lead in singles, taking all six first sets. Senior Jack Murray was the first to close out his singles match, winning 6-4, 6-3 on Court 5. But the Golden Bears won second sets on the other five courts to send each to a third set.
Blumberg was the next to close out, giving the Tar Heels a 3-0 lead. Playing on Court 2, he took the first set 6-2, fell 3-6 in the second and then came back to take the third 6-2 to beat No. 61 Andre Goransson. The victory avenged one of just two singles losses for Blumberg this spring. The Tar Heel freshman's last loss was on Feb. 18, when the Tar Heels faced California in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships and Goransson won 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. Thursday the first and second sets played out similarly, but Blumberg flipped the third to take the win. The victory was his 17th in a row and made his record 23-2 this spring.
With UNC leading 3-0, the Golden Bears took their only point of the evening, on Court 6. Tar Heel sophomore Blaine Boyden won his first set 6-3 but fell in the other two, losing for just the fourth time this spring.
The three courts still active then had a race to the finish, with senior Ronnie Schneider on Court 1 and freshman Simon Soendergaard on Court 4 each a game from closing out, while Kelly on Court 3 was tied 5-5 in the third set. Ultimately, it was the Tar Heels' top player who did the honors, as 22nd-ranked Schneider won 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 over 12th-ranked Lakat to clinch the win.
Final NCAA Rd 16 (9) UNC 4 (8) Cal 1 #22 Schneider clinches over #12 Lakat 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 pic.twitter.com/gdM0kGpH2r— UNC Men's Tennis (@carolinatennis) May 19, 2017
“We give Cal credit,” said Schneider, who is now 30-11 in his senior year. “We won doubles and all six of the first sets, and Cal fought all the way back and split on every court but one, which is pretty amazing. We just stuck in there and knew if we played our game we're one of the toughest teams in the country. I am just so proud of everybody.”
May 18, 2017
NCAA Men's Tennis Championship Third Round
Dan Magill Tennis Center
#9 North Carolina 4, #8 California 1
Order of match finish: (3,2,1)
1. #12 Blumberg/Kelly (UNC) def. #5 Bergevi/Lakat (Cal), 7-6(2)
2. #74 Goransson/Griffith (Cal) def. #82 Murray/Soendergaard (UNC), 6-3
3. Kodali/Schneider (UNC) def. Hoffmann/Nishimura (Cal), 6-1
Order of match finish: (5,2,6,1)
1. #22 Ronnie Schneider (UNC) def. Florian Lakat (Cal), 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
2. #16 William Blumberg (UNC) def. #61 Andre Goransson (Cal), 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
3. #116 Robert Kelly (UNC) vs. Filip Bergevi (Cal), 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 unf
4. Simon Soendergaard (UNC) vs. #81 Billy Griffith (Cal), 6-3, 4-6, 5-3 unf
5. Jack Murray (UNC) def. J.T. Nishimura (Cal), 6-4, 6-3
6. Bjorn Hoffmann (Cal) d. Blaine Boyden (UNC), 3-6, 6-3, 6-0