April 15, 2016
Chapel Hill, N.C. – Ronnie Schneider overcame a first-set loss to outlast Georgia Tech’s Carlos Benito on court 2 in the deciding match, lifting fifth-ranked North Carolina to a 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference men’s tennis victory over No. 30 Georgia Tech Friday afternoon at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.
Tech finished its regular season at 15-7, 8-4 in the ACC, and missed out on earning a top-4 seed and a first-round bye in next week’s conference tournament in Cary, N.C. The Yellow Jackets will have the No. 5 seed and face either Boston College or Louisville Thursday afternoon. The Tar Heels (23-3, 8-3), ranked No. 1 in the nation for seven weeks this spring, finish their regular season Sunday at Duke.
“We’re never happy with a loss, but I’m always proud of a team that believes and fights to the end,” said head coach Kenny Thorne. “We came into the senior day match of the reigning national indoor champions and came up a few points short. We have played better as the season has progressed, which is always the goal. Now post-season begins, and we will continue to commit to your game.”
Benito, who entered the national ITA rankings this week at No. 110, was one of four Yellow Jackets to win their opening sets in singles, getting on top of Schnur, the 29th-ranked player in the nation, 6-4 in the first set. But the North Carolina junior battled back to win the second and third sets by the same score.
Tech got the upper hand in the match by winning the doubles point, despite a 6-1 loss by Casey and Michael Kay at No. 1 at the hands of the nation’s No. 2-ranked team of Brett Clark and Robert Kelly. Eubanks and Benito scored a 6-3 win on court 2 over 29th-ranked Brayden Schnur and Jack Murray, and the Jackets secured the point when Nathan Rakitt and Andrew Li outlasted Anu Kodali and Ronnie Schnieder, 6-4, at No. 3.
Though Tech won the first set in four of the six singles matches, North Carolina grabbed the momentum back when Kelly, ranked No. 114 nationally, defeated Rakitt, 7-5, 6-3, to tie the score at 1-1. Sophomore Daniel Yun gave the Jackets the lead again by completing a 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 11 Murray on court 4, but the Tar Heels’ evened the match with No. 47 Clark’s 7-6, 6-2 win over Fiegel on court 3.
Eubanks, ranked No. 7 in the nation this week, put the Jackets back on top by outlasting No. 29 Schnur, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, before Anu Kodali knotted the match again on court 6, overcoming a first-set loss to down Yellow Jackets’ freshman Li, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
That left the match in the hands of Benito and Schneider, who were knotted 2-2 in the third set when all the other action was completed.
NOTABLE: Eubanks, perhaps the top candidate for ACC Player of the Year honors, improved to 11-1 in ACC competition and 12-5 against ranked opponents Friday with his win over No. 29 Schnur … Yun, who had not played an ACC match before this spring, improved to 6-4 in conference matches and 7-5 overall this spring … Benito went 3-3 in his last six matches, all of which went to three sets … Tech won the doubles point for the 18th time in 22 spring matches, including eight of 12 ACC matches … Benito and Eubanks improved to 13-3, 7-3 in the ACC, while L6i and Rakitt improved to 11-5, 5-4 in conference play.
#5 North Carolina 4, #30 Georgia Tech 3
April 15, 2016 at Chapel Hill, N.C. (Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center)
1. #7 Christopher Eubanks (GT) def. #29 Brayden Schnur (NC) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
2. #28 Ronnie Schneider (NC) def. #110 Carlos Benito (GT) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
3. #47 Brett Clark (NC) def. Cole Fiegel (GT) 7-6 (7-1), 6-2
4. Daniel Yun (GT) def. #111 Jack Murray (NC) 6-4, 6-3
5. #114 Robert Kelly (NC) def. Nathan Rakitt (GT) 7-5, 6-3
6. Anudeep Kodali (NC) def. Andrew Li (GT) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3
1. #2 Brett Clark/Robert Kelly (NC) def. #34 Casey Kay/Michael Kay (GT) 6-1
2. Christopher Eubanks/Carlos Benito (GT) def. #29 Brayden Schnur/Jack Murray (NC) 6-3
3. Nathan Rakitt/Andrew Li (GT) def. Anudeep Kodali/Ronnie Schneider (NC) 6-4
Georgia Tech 15-7, 8-4 ACC; National ranking #30
North Carolina 23-3, 8-3 ACC; National ranking #5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (4,5,3,1,6,2)