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Friday December 9th

'It's all business this year': No. 6 UNC men's tennis dominates in season opener

UNC tennis senior Blaine Boyden prepares to return the ball during a match against Bucknell University on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.
Buy Photos UNC tennis senior Blaine Boyden prepares to return the ball during a match against Bucknell University on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

Senior Blaine “Bo” Boyden and junior Ladd Harrison of the North Carolina men’s tennis team emerged from the locker room after a pair of dominant victories over Wofford and Bucknell on Saturday. They both wore full suits with turtleneck shirts.

“It’s all business this year,” Boyden said. “We want to be professional in everything we do.”

And the Tar Heels did just that as No. 6 North Carolina (2-0) opened spring play by defeating Wofford, 6-0, and Bucknell, 5-0.

Some of the standout performances from the doubleheader included those by sophomore Benjamin Sigouin, Harrison and Boyden.

Sigouin was able to put on a clinic against his opponents as he won his singles match against Wofford, 6-1, 6-2, and his singles match against Bucknell, 6-1, 6-1. Sigouin partnered with first-year Brian Cernoch to defeat Wofford in doubles, 6-2.

“I put high expectations on myself,” Sigouin said. “We’ve just been focusing on doing everything with a purpose in order to be efficient out there.”

Harrison might be the most obvious example of doing everything with a purpose over the last week before Saturday's matches. The junior competed in, and won, his first ever college dual match against Adrien Crastes of Bucknell, 6-0, 6-0.

“I came to Carolina on a dream,” Harrison said. “I put in a lot of long hours and hard work over the last two years, and it’s starting to pay off. Hopefully I can try to keep it going.”

His head coach took note of those long hours of practice.

“Ladd Harrison had a great week of practice," Sam Paul said. “It was probably his best week of practice since he’s been here.”

Boyden partnered with junior William Blumberg for the doubles match against John Crawford and Julian Chousa of Wofford. Boyden and Blumberg were winning, 4-3, when the match ended early because North Carolina won the other two doubles matches to clinch the point. Paul commented on why there were no doubles matches against Bucknell.

“It was sort of a coaching decision,” Paul said. “We didn’t want to get anybody injured, so it was more of a safety factor for the players.”

Boyden was one of only three players from UNC to compete in the singles matches against both Wofford and Bucknell, and doubles match against Wofford. Despite this above-average workload, Boyden was still able to defeat Edu Villar of Wofford, 6-2, 6-3, and Ryan Jurist of Bucknell, 6-0, 6-0.

“Bo is a workhorse,” Paul said. “I was happy with everybody’s shot selection, and we had a good week of practice.”

Boyden shared some of his thoughts about what it means to be the only senior on the squad.

“I just try to pass on the wisdom of everything that I’ve learned from all the seniors that I’ve played with,” Boyden said. “But these guys are so professional in everything that they do and in terms of everything they bring to the table. Everyone is a leader on this team.”

As Boyden walked out to the court, he accidentally spilled the contents of an ice cooler on the court before his Bucknell match — a result of nerves. The combination of his leadership and the business mindset that Boyden has helped inject into this team culminated into him making a single promise. One that is sure to leave many fans filled with hope for the season.

“You can call it nervous jitters before the first match,” Boyden said. “I won’t get nervous again.”

@McMastersJ

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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