BY Alex Zietlow
UNC men's tennis seniors continue ‘one last run’ with win over VCU in first round of NCAA tournament
Jack Murray expected more from himself after his individual performance in the ACC Tournament. Two doubles losses, one singles loss and one unfinished singles match left a sour taste in the senior’s mouth.
In the North Carolina men’s tennis team’s 4-0 win over VCU in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, however, Murray proved to be a bright spot in the overcast Friday afternoon.
After he and Simon Soendergaard clinched the doubles point in their 6-2 win on Court Two, Murray came out strong in singles, sending aggressive, flat ground strokes from the baseline on Court Five. His 6-1, 6-1 win marked his 100th career singles win.
“Coming into school, I was talking to like my parents, saying, ‘How cool would it be to win 100 matches in college?’" Murray said. “I never thought I would ever actually be able to do it, especially when I didn’t play in my freshman fall. It just kind of happened.”
Ronnie Schneider — the other starting senior who put together a 6-3, 6-3 winning effort in singles Friday — and Murray have contributed to Tar Heel teams that have advanced to the Elite 8 in each of their three seasons at North Carolina. In 2016, they each earned All-America honors.
“They’ve been special all four years,” head coach Sam Paul said.
Not to mention, in each season of their careers, the two have had the luxury of opening up NCAA play at home.
“Senior Day was kind of sad to think it was the last time I was going to play here (at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center) ...” Murray said. “And I just can’t be any happier to be able to play in front of the home crowd and on these courts again for one last run.”
Back in the regular season, Schneider said he was playing the best tennis of his career — and he’s still rolling. The senior, who garnered All-ACC first team honors this season, is 7-1 in his last eight singles matches. And six of those eight matches were against opponents ranked in the top 100.
Besides a few serving inconsistencies, the senior proved steady on Friday — just like he has all season.
“Obviously, I hope to keep the good play up tomorrow,” Schneider said. “There are a couple things I’d like to do better from today, but I’ll work on that tomorrow morning. I really do feel happy with how everything is going.”
North Carolina — and its seniors who are not quite ready to end their Tar Heel careers — faces off against South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 3 p.m.
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