In its first two dual matches of the season, the No. 8 NC State men’s tennis team beat Alabama 4-2 and fell to No. 13 Tennessee 4-1 in the regional round of the ITA Kickoff Weekend event.
The ITA Kickoff Weekend event is a tournament in which four different schools host four teams which play a mini tournament to see who moves on to the ITA Indoor Championships. NC State was the host in this round in which the other teams were Tennessee, Ole Miss and Alabama.
As the No. 1 seed of the region, NC State (1-1) played its first match against No. 4 seed Alabama. In the doubles round, the No. 23 duo of fifth-year Alexis Galarneau and senior Robert Turzak won its match 6-4, while the No. 9 duo of junior Yannai Barkai and senior Tadas Babelis won its match 6-3 to secure the doubles point. The other duo of sophomore Robin Catry and senior Collin Shick was down 5-2 when play was stopped.
In singles, No. 7 Galarneau was the first to finish as he won his first two sets 7-5, 6-2 to clinch the first singles point. That was soon followed by a victory by Barkai, who won his first two sets 6-4, 6-4 to put the Pack up 3-0 and one point away from clinching the match.
Alabama won the next two matches to finish as junior Rafa Izquierdo Luque and Babelis each fell in three sets, but Catry won his first two sets 6-3, 6-2 to clinch the victory for the Wolfpack 4-2. Sophomore Martins Rocens lost his first set 6-4 but was winning his second set 2-1 when play was stopped.
After a day’s rest, the Pack now had to face No. 8 Tennessee, who beat Ole Miss the day prior, in a top-15 showdown to see who would advance to the Indoor Championships.
In doubles, both duos of Barkai/Babelis and Galarneau/Turzak fell 6-3 as the Vols took the doubles point. Catry and Shick were down 4-2 when play was stopped.
In singles, Galarneau had a stellar performance, beating the No. 24 singles player 6-0, 6-1 to give the Pack a point, but that was the only point the Pack would get during the match as Izquierdo Luque, Babelis and Barkai each fell to give Tennessee a 4-1 championship win. Catry was down 4-2 in the first set of his match and Rocens was tied at 3-3 in his first set when play was stopped.
NC State will play Tennessee again on Feb. 7 in Knoxville, Tennessee, but not before traveling to take on Georgia on Jan. 31 and returning home to take on UNC-Charlotte on Feb. 5. Conference play for the Wolfpack begins on Feb. 19 at home against Louisville.