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Sophomore Martin Rocens celebrates after hitting a game winning point on Saturday, March 13, 2021 at J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center. NC State won the match against the Miami Hurricanes 4-1.

The NC State men’s tennis team took the courts on Thursday, Jan. 20, beating Princeton 6-1 and sweeping Campbell 7-0 for a strong start to its spring season.

While not flawless, the win over Princeton was close to it with a strong doubles performance and some quick victories from the middle of their singles lineup.

With a mix of returning and new faces in the lineup, the squad was able to get a fast point towards its total match score after winning two out of three the doubles matches. The top doubles pair of junior Martins Rocens and freshman Fons Van Sambeek won its match 6-3 while the pairing of junior Robin Catry and sophomore Luca Staeheli won its match 6-2 to secure the point.

As for singles, Rocens and Staeheli comfortably downed their opponents 6-1, 6-3, and 6-2, 6-3, respectively. Sophomore Braden Shick and Van Sambeek also secured wins, boosting the overall match score to 5-0, enough to secure the first win of the season for NC State.

However, it was the top of the lineup that seemingly struggled in the early round. Unfortunately, senior Rafa Izquierdo Luque, was not able to overcome two closely contested sets, both of which were extended to tiebreaks. Despite Izquierdo Luque coming up just short, losing 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-4), the Wolfpack will still lean on the talented senior to be one of best players for the team throughout the rest of the season.

No. 36 ranked Catry was able to pull out the win in spite of dropping the first set, 4-6. After, the experienced junior was able to rally and win his next two sets 6-1, and 7-5. As one of the most explosive players on the team, the squad will need him to step up in big moments like this more and more often and secure wins in tight matches.

A few hours later, the second leg of the double header included a face off with Campbell University. Again, the doubles point was won comfortably by Wolfpack duos that included senior Yannai Barkai paired with graduate Collin Shick and freshman Joseph Wayand paired with redshirt senior Joseph Schrader as both pairs won 6-3.

Following suit from the first match, the singles round was dominated by NC State and while there was room for improvement in match play, the second round of starting seeds from the squad were able to sweep the Camels.

Rocens quickly dismantled his opponent 6-2, 6-1 and was first to finish in the singles round against Campbell. The junior has already started out strong this spring by winning both his singles matches in the double header and going 24-7 in game score during these matches.

Van Sambeek was able to also secure his second singles win of the day at the No. 6 seed against Campbell. By winning 6-3, 6-2, the Dutch freshman successfully won his first two career singles matches and first doubles match within hours. The strong dual-action start for Van Sambeek's season could prove fruitful as he took advantage of the opportunity to show what he can do.

Other notable singles performances included Schrader, who despite dropping his first set, came back to win with a final scoreline of 6-7 (9-11), 4-6, and 1-0 (10-5). Staeheli, Braden Shick, and freshman Damien Salvestre all had close first sets but were able to pull through before easily winning their second sets to add three more wins to the Wolfpack total, successfully clinching their second match victory of the day.

The Wolfpack has a chance to capitalize on the momentum its victories earned against Princeton and Campbell when it travels to Mississippi for the men’s tennis ITA Kickoff. The Pack starts the weekend against Illinois on Jan. 28.