Ronnie Schneider was reminded Wednesday night of the challenges he will face whenever he takes the court as the No. 1 for the North Carolina men’s tennis team.
Playing against UNC-Greensboro at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, Schneider faced off against the Spartans' No. 1, sophomore Connor Thompson.
UNC won 7-0 and no Tar Heel dropped a set — including Schneider, who won 6-3, 6-3. But it wasn’t an easy match for the junior by any means.
Thompson challenged him early and didn’t go down quietly, making a late push to give Schneider a bit of a scare.
"I kind of had a letdown there in the second set, which is my own fault," Schneider said. "Mentally, I have to stay focused throughout the whole match. But give him credit, he started to play really well.”
There’s a lesson to be learned here, both for Schneider and for the entire North Carolina team. Having won an indoor national championship earlier this month and currently sitting atop the polls, the Tar Heels are going to get their opponent's best shot every night.
“It is going to be their biggest match of the year and so they are going to play as well as possible," Schneider said. "I always have to be focused and I know that, and today wasn’t a surprise at all.”
Thompson showed up against Schneider, but the rest of the Spartans' lineup was overmatched against the Tar Heels. Senior Brett Clark and junior Jack Murray easily handled their singles draws, both winning 6-1, 6-1. Sophomore Robert Kelly won 6-2, 6-0.
First-years Anu Kodali and Blaine Boyden also won in straight sets in the Tar Heels’ No. 5 and No. 6 slots, respectively. Coach Sam Paul was pleased that the nonconference match allowed both first-years the opportunity to play and gain valuable experience.
“Any time they can get some single matches in, it is very good for both of them," Paul said. "We are going to need them.”
North Carolina also easily took care of the doubles matches, where the team won 6-1, 6-2 and 6-3 to sweep the Spartans.
But while the doubles matches might not have been close, the No. 1 singles match was — a challenge that Schneider expected and enjoyed.
“Every Division-I college team is going to have a good No. 1, and so I know that going in and I have to be prepared," he said.
"Sometimes they might not be as good all the way down the lineup, but always their No. 1 is going to show up and play well.”
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