As a freshman, Ronnie Schneider is experiencing college tennis for the first time, but he faced a familiar opponent to the North Carolina tennis team.
In the finals of the qualifying round of the ITA Men’s All-American Championships, Schneider defeated Memphis’ Johnny Grimal to move on to the tournament’s main draw.
Last season, junior Esben Hess-Olesen— who received an automatic bid in the main draw — defeated Grimal in the same round.
Schneider’s 6-3, 6-2 victory improved his record to 7-0 in the fall season.
“He has a great work ethic, so he is doing everything he can consistently to be the best player he can possibly be,” coach Sam Paul said. “I’m certainly happy for him to make the main draw but looking forward to seeing how he competes in the main draw.”
Schneider started the tournament with victories against Rodolfo Bustamante of Texas Christian and Samir Iftikhar of New Mexico in two sets each.
“I thought I did a good job of playing good in the big situations because it was a close match and he’s a good player,” Schneider said of his match again Grimal. “I was just really happy to get through because my goal was to get through qualifying and it was one step towards my goal.”
Several other Tar Heels competed in the tournament. Sophomore Brett Clark won three straight matches, and junior Oystein Steiro won four matches in a row in the pre-qualifying singles tournament to join Nelson Vick and Schneider in the qualifying tournament.
Unlike Schneider, Vick, Clark and Steiro all lost their first round matches of the qualifying tournament in three sets on Monday.
Steiro and Vick had a second chance as they teamed up to play in the doubles qualifying tournament. They won both of their matches Tuesday before losing their third round match on Wednesday to Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka 8-3.
Hess-Olesen and Clark also played in the doubles qualifying tournament and were unable to qualify for the main draw. They had a bye in the first round and won their second round match Tuesday, but they lost their third round match 8-6 to Southern Methodist’s Nate Lammons and Alex Sanders.
“We were up 6-3 and should have closed it out but we lost some focus,” Hess-Olesen said. “We just have to learn from that.”
Hess-Olesen will face Baylor’s Julian Lenz and Schneider will take on Ben McLachlan of California in their first round matches Thursday.
“This tournament is the biggest tournament of the fall probably,” Hess-Olesen said. “I am excited, and it is a good chance to play a lot of good guys.”
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