Only six months ago, freshman Ronnie Schneider and Jack Murray competed against each other in the USTA National Open championship game, in which Schneider was victorious. Now the two are undefeated doubles partners, already bringing home seven wins for North Carolina this season.
The duo’s winning record continued Saturday evening, when the men’s tennis team beat No. 19 Illinois Fighting Illini 5-2 at home.
The team was coming off of a 4-2 loss to Duke last weekend, but the freshmen seemed unaffected as they defeated Illinois’ Jared Hiltzik and Alex Jesse 6-2 early on in the match.
Murray went on to win his No. 4 singles match against Brian Page 6-2, 6-2; followed by No. 17 Schneider, who beat Tim Kopinski 5-6, 6-2, 6-2 in his No. 2 singles.
The two have been playing together since they committed to UNC, but they used to compete regularly.
“Oh, I’ve known him for a long time,” Murray said, laughing. “We’ve been playing together since the boys’ 12-and-under. He’s kind of always been around.”
Schneider committed to play at UNC halfway through his sophomore year of high school, which he said was early for a tennis player. Once he made his decision, word spread to Murray, whose coach knew players on UNC at the time. Before long, Murray was speaking with UNC coaches and immediately became interested.
“I’m from the Midwest. I didn’t really know too much about southern schools,” Murray said. “But I fell in love with it. I’m so happy to be here.”
Schneider played a part in that recruiting process.
“I’m glad I was able to help in some way to get him here,” Schneider said.
If their record isn’t proof enough, after only minutes of watching Murray and Schneider play together on the court, it is clear that they have been working hard to become the best doubles team possible.
Head coach Sam Paul spoke highly of the pair, commenting on their friendship, which developed quickly after they realized that they would not only be playing together, but rooming together as well.
“They played together this summer on their Sectional Davis Cup team,” said Paul. “They know each other really well and they’re roommates, so that’s pretty fun to be around.”
Schneider showed enthusiasm about his teammate when asked what it was like playing and living with Murray.
“We’re really, really good friends,” Schneider said. “We know each other really well, and I enjoy spending as much time as I do with him on and off the court.”
Schneider and Murray will face Louisville on Wednesday and are not prepared to end their winning streak any time soon. Murray said he thought the duo would stay together for the majority of their four years at UNC.
“Hopefully we can stay together,” Murray said. “But if we don’t, then hopefully we can be on the courts next to each other pumping each other up so we can keep winning doubles points.”
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