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Arizona men’s tennis season ends with NCAA tournament second-round loss to UNC

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Arizona men’s tennis’ historic 2021-22 season came to an end Saturday as the Wildcats fell to North Carolina 4-1 in the second round of the NCAA championships.

The host Tar Heels won the doubles point and three singles points to clinch the match with action on two courts unfinished.

Arizona finishes the season 21-7. The Wildcats went undefeated in conference play on their way to a first-ever Pac-12 regular season championship. However, a stunning quarterfinals loss in the Pac-12 Championships to Washington ended No. 16 ranked Arizona’s chances of hosting the NCAAs.

Playing on UNC’s indoor courts due to inclement weather, the Wildcats gave the Tar Heels all they could handle in doubles competition. The two teams split results on courts Nos. 1 and 2. The point came down to the third doubles court, where the Tar Heels’ Benjamin Sigouin and Peter Murphy defeated Arizona’s Colton Smith and Jared Horwood.

The loss in doubles action meant Arizona needed to win four of six singles points. UNC’s singles players ultimately proved too much.

The UA’s No. 53 Gustaf Strom was the first to lose, falling to UNC’s Sigouin 6-3, 6-4 on court No. 2. Arizona’s No. 116 Herman Hoeyeraal earned the Wildcats’ lone point with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over the Tar Heels’ Logan Zapp on court No. 4.

UNC expanded its lead to 3-1 when Arizona’s No. 1 court player, No. 52 Jonas Ziverts fell in straight sets to UNC’s No. 33 Brian Cernoch 7-6, 6-3.

The Tar Heels clinched the match with a win on court No. 6 as UNC’s Murphy topped Arizona’s Nick Lagaev 7-6, 6-4.

The UA’s Colton Smith saw his match go unfinished on court No. 3. He led UNC’s Mac Kiger 6-7, 6-4, 5-4.

The match marks the conclusion of fifth-year senior Carlos Hassey’s collegiate career. Hassey capitalized on an extra year of eligibility resulting from the Covid-19-disrupted 2019-2020 season.

Hassey was on the verge of losing his point on court No. 5 when the match ended unfinished. Hassey trailed 6-3, 2-6, 2-5.

Ziverts, a fourth-year senior, has one year of remaining eligibility if he chooses to use it.

The second-round loss undoubtedly will leave a disappointing taste in the mouth of coach Clancy Shields, who had positioned Arizona to host the NCAAs until the Wildcats’ upset loss to Washington in the Pac-12 Championships.

With most of the roster expected to return and a top-25 recruiting class on its way in, the men’s tennis program is in position to continue its steady climb to national relevancy next season.