The NC State men’s tennis season was far from a disappointment. However, everyone on the team was left wanting more; not just more wins, but more opportunities to play. After starting the season ranked No. 8, the team dealt with a number of key injuries and cancellations that seemed to derail a season that started with realistic championship hopes.
“We finished right around the top 25, and we probably felt like we could’ve done more,” said head coach Kyle Spencer. “Unless you’re hoisting up the ACC trophy or making a very deep run at the NCAAs, in terms of a final four or championship, you’re always going to be wanting more.”
After a win against Alabama to open up the season, the team came up just short in a number of matches to put it behind in the rankings early. After five matches, the team was only 2-3 but had lost to Georgia once and Tennessee twice, both of whom finished the season ranked in the top 10.
The team went on to win eight of its next 11 matches but was again bogged down by cancellations. In the middle of the run, the team had a match against No. 2 Baylor canceled due to COVID-19 protocols. The run finally came to an end when NC State once again dealt with cancellations, this time a pair of matches against then-No. 2 UNC and then-No. 38 Duke.
After one final loss to wrap up the regular season, NC State went into the ACC Tournament as the No. 4 seed thanks to its midseason run. This alone was an accomplishment given the inconsistency the team faced in the regular season.
In the first round, NC State took on Florida State in what turned out to be its only team win of the postseason. While it was the only one, it was a great win. The 4-1 win by the Wolfpack over the Seminoles gave it a chance to take on Virginia in the semifinals of the ACC tournament.
“The quarterfinals of the ACC against Florida State was a good show of character of the guys,” Spencer said. “Even though we weren’t at full strength and sort of match fit and ready, I thought the guys did a wonderful job in a high pressure situation.”
The Pack fell to Virginia and ended up in Columbia, South Carolina for the South Carolina regional of the NCAA team tournament. In what was the theme of the season, NC State had its first round match against Florida Gulf Coast canceled due to COVID-19 cases within the FGCU program.
After playing just three matches over the prior five weeks, NC State went into the round of 32 to face off against South Carolina where NC State’s season as a team would come to an end. The Wolfpack fell 4-0 against the Gamecocks and was sent home from the NCAA team tournament.
While the season may not have been perfect, Spencer has kept what this season meant in perspective. Not only the individual growth that many players experienced, but that amid a pandemic, NC State was able to play a mostly full tennis season.
“I’m very thankful for all the people connected to our program, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, academics and our athletic director for helping us have a season at all,” Spencer said. “Our goals are pretty high, especially coming off the shortened season last year, but I think the most important thing was that we’re a family and that we stuck together with each other. That’s always, in my mind, the true essence of a team.”