The North Carolina men’s tennis team opened up conference play with a 6-1 win over Duke (8-4, 1-1 ACC) at home Tuesday.
The Tar Heels (13-1, 1-0 ACC) put on a dominant performance in their first outdoor match of the season. Despite the fact junior Robert Kelly was a late scratch from the starting lineup, North Carolina proved their depth in talent from the jump, seizing the doubles point with little contest from Duke’s court.
North Carolina continued its proficiency in singles play, winning all first sets besides the one on Court 4; senior Jack Murray notched the only UNC loss on the day (6-3, 6-3). First-year William Blumberg, sophomore Arturo Schmidt and senior Ronnie Schneider took care of business in straight sets. Schneider — who won 6-3, 6-4 — sealed the win for the Tar Heels.
First-year Simon Soendergaard 7-6 (3), 2-6, 1-0 (8) and sophomore Blaine Boyden 7-6 (5), 5-7, 1-0 (2) won in third-set tiebreaks after North Carolina had already claimed the win.
Who stood out?
Despite the fact that his singles victory on Court 5 didn’t affect the match’s decision, Boyden impressed his team and spectators in his win. He battled through two tightly-contested sets only to break through with an easy third-set tiebreak win. With the victory Tuesday, Boyden improved to 10-0 in singles this spring.
Tennis has been an escape for Boyden this season, as he recently learned his mother is undergoing her second bout with cancer. To honor Boyden’s mom, the team all shaved their heads and sported pink sweatbands on their forearms.
When was it decided?
Ronnie Schneider garnered the last point the Tar Heels needed to defeat their intrastate rival. That being said, the Tar Heels knew the game was theirs after they came out firing in doubles. North Carolina is undefeated when they claim the doubles point, and they have only dropped it three times all year.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina proved that they can adjust to the outdoor environment seamlessly after having a second consecutive successful indoors season. Outdoors, the ball moves slower, points last longer and endurance and consistency is tested more. A solid showing in this outdoor environment, where they will play the bulk of their schedule, makes the team optimistic.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels travel to Winston-Salem to take on No. 3 Wake Forest at 3 p.m. on Friday.