The North Carolina men’s tennis team won the 2021 Elon Fall Invitational doubles title this Sunday, marking the first title win for both players in their collegiate career.
Junior Mark Dillon and first-year Casey Kania represented the Tar Heels in this weekend’s Elon Fall Invitational at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center. Playing together in the Gold Doubles bracket, the pair advanced to the final match where they faced off against Old Dominion University’s Codie Van Schalkwyk and Oliver Nolan. On Sunday, the Tar Heel duo defeated ODU’s doubles team, 6-2, and were officially crowned the 2021 Elon Invitational champions.
To get there, Dillon and Kania had to compete in two preliminary rounds on Friday. In their first day of competition, they bested UNC Asheville’s Jon Brann Reid and Leo Bierbaum, 7-6 (1), before going on to beat Demis Taramonlis and Andres Silva of Radford, 6-4.
Dillon also participated in the Gold Singles bracket during the invitational, playing his final game in the consolation bracket against Chung-Han Tsai of Elon. Dillon played in four singles matchups over the weekend, facing Elon’s Daniel Martin, UNCG’s Alexander Zuckerman and JMU’s William Karpinski along with Tsai. In the final round matchup, Dillon lost to Tsai in straight sets, 6-3 and 6-2.
Who stood out?
Kania, a first-year from Middlefield, Conn., won his first title with this weekend’s invitational win. He was crucial in the pair’s three wins over the weekend, and it was his own drop volley that closed out the final match against ODU.
When was it decided?
In their first trip to the Elon Fall Invitational since 2011, Dillon and Kania faced opponents from strong programs. ODU, notably, has a doubles pair ranked 18th in ITA’s preseason doubles rankings. In their first round of the tournament, UNC’s Dillon and Kania were challenged by UNCA’s Brann Reid and Bierbaum in a 7-6 tiebreak game. This proved to be the toughest match the Tar Heel duo faced all weekend, as they went on to handily win their final match 6-2.
Why does it matter?
This marks the first title win for first-year Kania and also for Dillon, a junior from Charlotte, N.C. This title was a huge bounce back win for Dillon, who went 1-4 in limited singles action and finished 0-2 in doubles during his 2020-2021 preseason tournament play. This win at the Elon Fall Invitational, along with teammates Mac Kiger and Peter Murphy’s doubles win at Duke’s Bonk Invite, will prove critical in the efforts to build up a more well-rounded tennis team to compliment the talents of the nationally ranked Brian Cernoch and Rinky Hijikata.
When do they play next?
The men’s tennis team will hit the road this weekend to compete in the ITA Men’s All-American Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Competition starts this Saturday, Oct. 2nd.