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North Carolina men’s tennis honors lone senior Boyden in victory over Notre Dame

Blaine Boyden Senior Day
Senior Blaine "Bo" Boyden is honored during a match on Senior Day against Notre Dame on Sunday, April 7, 2019. UNC won 5-0.

Blaine Boyden stood in the center of the huddle for the last regular-season home game of his career. 

After the emotions of being a senior hit him on the way home from Saturday's practice, he wanted to treat Sunday's game like any other match. Boyden reminded his teammates to fight like it was any other day, to play with all their heart and to stay fired up. 

On Sunday, though, it was different for the rest of the team. 

“For all of us, we had to win for Bo,” junior William Blumberg said. “You had to give first-class effort ... It’s bigger than just a match; it’s for him.”

The No. 11 North Carolina men’s tennis team honored its lone senior with a 5-0 victory over No. 22 Notre Dame, maintaining its unblemished home record. 

For Boyden’s parents, Pam and Scott, Sunday’s match was bittersweet to watch. 

“We love watching him, but to know it’s probably coming to an end is the bittersweet part of it,” Scott Boyden said. “We’ve enjoyed watching him as much as he’s enjoyed playing.”

The day started off like normal with the typical doubles lineup, but there was something a little different than usual on the court.

Peeking out of the Tar Heels' tennis shoes were pink socks. The team wore them in honor of Pam Boyden, Blaine's mom, who has battled breast cancer throughout Boyden’s time at UNC. 

“That meant a lot to me,” Boyden said, his voice cracking. “I was very surprised, but that kind of goes to show you what the Carolina tennis family is all about. They knew how much that meant to me and my mom, and that’s something so special that they could honor me with something so small like that on a day that’s special for me.”  

After a quick 6-0 shutout from Courts 3 and 1, head coach Sam Paul took a moment between doubles and singles to honor Boyden and his family. 

“He’s a great example for everyone, for all of our guys, that if you work hard and you stay focused and you do your stuff, your dreams will come true,” Paul said. “Special young man — 30 years of being here, he would be in the category of top percent of work ethic.”

Paul said that working with young men like Boyden is the reason why the coaches do what they do. 

“He’s a rarity,” Paul said. “To take care of his academics, to take care of his leadership, to care so much about the team, it’s hard to believe it’s coming to an end.”

Boyden’s growth is a story that will be told for years to come. The Raleigh native didn’t play doubles his first couple of years on the team. Now, he’s ranked nationally at No. 34 along with Blumberg, played on Court One and has a 9-0 record in ACC doubles play. 

The senior leads the team with a singles record of 15-3, primarily playing on Courts 4 and 5. But, where he plays doesn’t matter to him, according to Paul. 

“He’s the first one here in the morning,” Paul said. “He’s made himself a great player, made himself a great student. His work ethic is incredible. His dedication to his team is incredible. He’s never really cared about himself. He cares about the team.”

Although the team captain didn’t finish, Boyden showed his true colors in his play by powering back. 

“That’s who he is — never going to give up and never stops fighting,” Blumberg said. 

While UNC added another win to its 16-4, 8-2 ACC record, Sunday was about more than just tennis. It was about honoring the team’s lone senior, the one who sent UNC to its first NCAA title match, has been an ITA Scholar athlete, named to the All-ACC Academic Team and has the highest GPA on the team. 

It is Boyden’s heart that has made the biggest impact. “He’s gone through many highs and lows, a lot that people are aware of and some that people are not, and the way he deals with them is truly incredible,” Blumberg said. “He’s someone Carolina tennis and Carolina Athletics, as well as the student body, will really miss.”

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