The fourth-seeded Carolina men’s tennis team beat top-ranked, top-seeded and defending champion Ohio State, 4-0, in the semifinal of the ITA Indoor National Championships on Sunday.
With the victory, Carolina moves on for a spot at the indoor national title on Monday against second-seeded Southern California, which beat Michigan in another semifinal.
UNC-Chapel Hill and USC will be meeting for the second season in a row. Last year, the Tar Heels beat USC, 4-1, on the road in the NCAA Tournament round of 16, handing the Trojans their first NCAA Tournament loss at Marks Tennis Stadium.
Carolina is seeking its second ITA Indoor championship, having beaten Virginia to win it in 2016. Carolina has reached at least the semifinals in four of the last five years.
Sunday’s win was also head coach Sam Paul’s 500th career victory. Paul, the winningest active coach in Atlantic Coast Conference and the winningest coach in school history, is in his 27thseason as the head coach at UNC.
“I didn’t even know it was win number 500,” Paul said after the match. “It’s all about my players.”
It was the ninth win by shutout for the Tar Heels (10-0) this season, five of which have come against ranked opponents in the ITA national team rankings.
Carolina has won three of its last four meetings with Ohio State, including beating the top-ranked Buckeyes twice in the last seven months (also in the 2019 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals).
The Tar Heels won the doubles point when William Blumberg and Brian Cernoch raced to a 6-2 win at No. 1 doubles over John McNally and Robert Cash. Simon Soendergaard and Mac Kiger, the nation’s third-ranked doubles duo, won 6-4 at No. 2 over Justin Boulais and James Trotter.
Rinky Hijikata and Benjamin Sigouin had their match at No. 3 doubles go unfinished.
Hijikata and Soendergaard both won their singles matches, with Hijikata beating Justin Boulais 6-2, 6-2 at No. 3 singles and Soendergaard picking up a 6-1, 6-2, straight-sets win over Cash. Cernoch won the deciding match at No. 5 singles, beating Trotter 6-4, 7-5.
The singles matches of Blumberg (No. 1), Sigouin (No. 2) and Josh Peck (No. 4) went unfinished.
The Carolina women won the ITA Indoors title a week ago, capturing their fourth championship in the last eight years.