Nicholas Monroe knows he has no choice but to play aggressive tennis. And that's just to qualify.
Knowing he may log overtime on the court didn't stop the North Carolina freshman from posting an impressive
6-3, 6-2 win Wednesday afternoon against East Tennessee State's Juan Yannuzzi.
Monroe will now move on in the qualifying rounds of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association South Atlantic Regional Indoor Championships at UNC's Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.
Tournament play begins at 8 a.m. today.
If Monroe can reel off two more victories today, he will earn the right to play in the 64-player singles bracket, which begins Friday.
Max Hilkey and Greg Archer, two of Monroe's teammates, also won their opening qualifying matches. Next up for Hilkey is Old Dominion's Calin Milos, and Archer will face Wake Forest's David Bere.
After some early jitters, Monroe said he was able to get the upper edge.
"In every first match of a tournament, I'm always tense," Monroe said. "The first few games I was kind of erratic, but I settled down and took advantage of some of his unforced errors."
Monroe's aggressive game plan was necessary to avoid falling into Yannuzzi's trap of long rallies.
"He's a clay-court player, so he likes to hit the balls up high and try to move the other guy back," Monroe said. "But when he was hitting it high, I was stepping forward, and any short ball I got I was coming in, so I had to stay aggressive."
Hilkey had little trouble in the beginning of his qualifying match, ending points quickly with sharp net play to take the opening set 6-2.
Yet it was a lack of consistency that almost cost Hilkey, as opponent Joe Brooks of William & Mary stormed back to split sets before Hilkey closed it out to win 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Archer also had trouble putting away his match against Florida State's Rodrigo Lamb, ending play with a tight 6-1, 7-6 victory to move ahead.
A tiebreaker stumped UNC's final bid in qualifying. Chad Riley, down 2-6 to High Point's Erik Petterson, pulled himself back in the match in winning the second set but fell via a third-set tiebreaker 2-6, 6-4, 6-7.
Riley also missed out on qualifying in doubles. After he and teammate Trystan Menaine won their first match, they lost to Old Dominion's Nichlas Hallberg and Salman Mohammed 8-4.
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