The 2020 NC State men’s tennis team was one of the best in school history, achieving its highest all-time ranking five times this season. The Pack was ranked in the top-10 since Feb. 5 and finished the year ranked No. 6. Unfortunately, NC State was denied a chance to compete for the ACC and national championships due to COVID-19, but there are still plenty of memorable moments to look back on. Here are the top five moments of the NC State men’s tennis team’s shortened season.
5. First conference victory over Virginia Tech - March 7, 2020
The Wolfpack picked up its first and only conference victory of the season with a 4-2 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. NC State had been swept 4-0 by UNC earlier in the week, but bounced back nicely with a road win over the Hokies. Senior Alexis Galarneau picked up a ranked win in singles over Henrik Korsgaard of VT, ranked No. 112 in the country.
NC State has now won four consecutive matches against the Hokies. This would be the Pack’s last match of the season, but like several other NC State teams whose seasons were cut short, the men’s tennis team ended the season with a win.
4. Galarneau and Turzak beating the No. 4 doubles team in the country - March 4, 2020
The biggest doubles victory of the season for NC State came when Galarneau and junior Robert Turzak took down rival UNC’s Mac Kiger and Simon Soendergaard by 6-3. An unranked duo themselves, Galarneau and Turzak beat the No. 4 ranked doubles duo in the country, pulling off a huge upset on the outside courts at J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.
This was the only match that NC State won against the No. 2 Tar Heels, who won the other two doubles matches and swept singles to claim a 4-0 victory. Nonetheless, it was a huge victory for Galarneau and Turzak, who were playing in their first doubles match together in over two weeks.
It was also another spectacular win in the stellar career of Galarneau, who finished the season ranked No. 20 in the country in singles and was named NC State’s first ITA All-American since 2009. Had the season been completed, Galarneau would likely have been named an All-ACC team member for the fourth straight year.
3. First win over Virginia since 1999 - Jan. 26, 2020
Prior to this season, NC State had not lost more consecutive games to any ACC opponent besides Virginia, falling to the Cavaliers in each match since 1999. The Wolfpack put that streak to an end this year, defeating then-No. 23 Virginia 4-1 at the 2020 ITA Weekend Kickoff event. With the win, the Pack clinched a spot in the ITA National Men’s Indoor Championships for the first time in program history.
The Cavaliers have won the NCAA National Championship four times out of the last seven years and were playing in their home town of Charlottesville, Virginia, but NC State was the better team that day. Galarneau won his singles match over Virginia’s Carl Soderlund, who won 2019 ACC Men’s Tennis Player of the Year and was the ITA preseason No. 1 singles player. Sophomore Yannai Barkai also picked up a ranked singles win, and Galarneau and Turzak won their doubles match over a ranked duo.
2. Big road win over Michigan - Jan. 15, 2020
NC State traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to take on then No. 17 Michigan in its first road match and first ranked match of the season. The Pack came ready to play, squeaking out a 4-3 win.
Despite losing the doubles point, the Pack won four of the six singles matches, including three wins against players that were nationally ranked at the end of the season. With the team score tied 3-3, Turzak came in clutch and won his singles match in tiebreaker fashion to secure the victory for the Wolfpack.
While it was already a big win when it happened, it wasn’t until later in the season when the Wolfpack realized just how huge the victory was, as Michigan ended the season ranked No. 3 in the country. This was the first of two wins over top-five opponents for NC State.
1. Upset over No. 4 Texas - March 1, 2020
The best moment of the season came when the Pack picked up its signature win of the season over the defending national champion Texas Longhorns, ranked No. 4 in the country. The match was played at the Cary Tennis Park in Cary, NC.
NC State lost to Texas two years in a row, with last year’s defeat coming via a sweep as the Longhorns were en route to a national championship. From the jump, the Pack made sure it would not be swept again this year, winning the doubles point to start the match.
The Longhorns won three of the first five singles matches to finish, but the Pack got big performances out of freshmen Robin Catry and Martin Rocens, who each won their matches to tie the score 3-3.
In the deciding singles match, Galarneau was pitted against Yuya Ito of Texas, ranked No. 2 in the country. In their last match against each other in 2018, Ito defeated Galarneau. The first two sets were decided in tiebreaker fashion with Galarneau and Ito splitting one apiece to send the match into a decisive third set. Galarneau then did what he had done all season by “bringing home the bacon,” like head coach Kyle Spencer likes to say, winning the last set 6-1 to clinch the victory for the Wolfpack.
This was the highest ranked win for NC State since 1999 and the first top-10 victory since 2016. For the win over Texas, the men’s tennis team won the 2020 Wolfie Award award for Men’s Team Performance of the Year, handed out by the NC State Athletic Department. This win showed that NC State was a championship-caliber team and was one of the best teams in the country in 2020.