With a shutout win over the Fighting Irish on Friday and a 4-1 Saturday victory against the Commodores, UNC clinched a third straight trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships — earning a chance to defend its national title.
“I think we had one of — if not the — toughest regionals, right up there as far as overall team talent,” said senior Ronnie Schneider, who sealed Saturday’s win with a straight-sets victory. “So I think this year, more than any year we’ve gone to Indoors, I think I’m the most happy about this one.”
The depth of this team will play a major role in the season going forward. Schneider, senior Jack Murray and junior Robert Kelly combined to win eight matches during the two-day kickoff event.
Despite their contribution, the success of the eight underclassmen will determine how far the Tar Heels can go, with head coach Sam Paul having three first-years in the starting lineup in two high-pressure matchups.
First-year William Blumberg is used to the big stage after a stellar juniors career, so it was no surprise when he came up with big wins in both matches.
Against Notre Dame, he and Kelly clinched the doubles point for UNC while playing the Fighting Irish’s No. 10 team. On Saturday, Blumberg played in the No. 2 position in singles and was the first off the court after defeating Danny Valent — ranked in the top 100 — in straight sets and securing the team’s second point.
Even though he’s still getting use to Carolina blue, Blumberg was happy to help his team secure the big wins.
“You always want to add for your team,” he said Saturday. “So getting a good early win, kind of setting the tone for the team, giving them a little confidence is good.”