The No. 18 North Carolina men’s tennis team kicked off its spring season Saturday in commanding fashion.
The Tar Heels captured a 7-0 victory against Wofford and a 6-1 win against Gardner-Webb at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.
In the opening day doubleheader, the Tar Heels won all of their doubles matches and conceded just one singles match at the end of the day against Gardner-Webb.
Coach Sam Paul recognized the good start, but admitted that the team still has a lot of work to do.
“We’ve got to get in better shape,” Paul said. “We’ve only been in school for a week, so we’ve just got to keep getting better.”
The dominant performances from the Tar Heels included convincing success in singles and doubles play from their top-seeded players, Esben Hess-Olesen and Nelson Vick.
The two played alongside each other in doubles play and won 8-1 in games against their opponents from both Wofford and Gardner-Webb. Vick, a junior, was also nearly flawless in singles matches, winning both of his matches 6-0, 6-1.
“It’s tough obviously with a doubleheader, but I feel that we were all there mentally and physically too,” said Hess-Olesen, a sophomore from Denmark. “It was a good team effort and I think we’re really ready for the season now because we got a lot of tennis in today and we know what’s coming up.”
Hess-Olesen is coming off of a strong fall season during which he won the USTA/ITA Carolinas Regional Finals and was one of 32 male players in the nation to reach the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championship in Flushing Meadow, N.Y.
Also for the Tar Heels, freshman Brett Clark played in his first collegiate dual match Saturday and notched a 6-2, 6-0 win against Wofford in his only singles match of the day. He also played a part in doubles victories alongside senior William Parker against Wofford and Gardner-Webb.
“On the doubles court, I don’t really see him as a freshman,” Parker said. “We’re pretty much equal. He helps me, I help him. He stays pretty calm on the court, so I like that.”
Parker won both of his singles matches on the day, as did Norwegian sophomore Oystein Steiro. The team also saw singles victories from junior Maik Ulrich against Wofford and senior Taylor Meyer against Gardner-Webb.
Freshman Stuart DePaolo also clinched two doubles wins, alongside freshman Andrew Gores against Wofford and with the help of Steiro against Gardner-Webb.
With a 2-0 start now, Paul says the team’s goals for the season are the same as always — they hope to win the ACC, reach the NCAA tournament, and go as far as they can.
“To get everything that we can individually out of each person — that’s always a goal,” said Paul. “That we maximize the potential of everyone on the team.”
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