Senior Brett Clark and sophomore Robert Kelly are the top-ranked doubles team in the country, and Clark said he hopes the ranking will give the duo a slight edge heading into matches.
“Hopefully, that confidence that we are definitely the best team, or one of the best teams in the country, will help us,” he said. “Maybe give us a little intimidation factor going onto the court against teams that can see that.”
The team also returns its top-ranked singles player, junior Ronnie Schneider, who came into Saturday ranked No. 13 in the country.
Schneider is coming back from a fibula injury that has kept him out of competition since early October, and he only competed in the early matches against Georgetown to ensure he would be able to compete in UNC’s next match.
“You can play all the sets in practice that you want,” Schneider said. “But you can’t replicate playing a match in an event like (Saturday).”
Saturday was also the debut of the newly installed Smart Court technology at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. This technology uses four fully automatic cameras to view the courts.
The system can give real-time action reviews and provide auto stats as well as bio-mechanical analysis of players’ movements on the court. It allows players and coaches to review what players are doing right and what they need to improve on.
“We’re still trying to work out some of the kinks, but it’s a great teaching tool for our guys,” Paul said.
Paul said he hopes this technology will help the players keep their focus on a point-to-point basis and help them maintain the patterns they want to run during matches.
The players will need to maintain their focus in every match this season if they want to end their season with a title.
UNC will have to make its way through an ACC slate where 10 of the 12 teams in the conference made the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
The Tar Heels have made the Elite Eight in each of the past two seasons, and they hope these tools will help them take the next step toward a third straight quarterfinal and beyond.