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Wednesday December 7th

Reese Brantmeier looks to make her mark on UNC women's tennis after U.S. Open run

<p>Photo Courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications.</p>
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Photo Courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications.

In August, Reese Brantmeier won the U.S. Tennis Association National Doubles Championship in San Diego, granting her entry in this year's U.S. Open.

The next morning, she hopped off a red-eye flight to attend her first day of classes as a 17-year-old first-year at UNC. 

“I did miss my 9 a.m., unfortunately, but I went to my 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.," Brantmeier said. "I think two out of three is the best I could ask for there.”

Although Brantmeier’s first few weeks of college were far from conventional, she handled them with grace. She says that her experiences traveling for tennis while completing high school online helped her adjust to the fast-paced life of a collegiate athlete. 

“Balancing the workload is something that I’m used to,” she says. “But it’s definitely a different environment being in person and back in the more academic setting."

At this year’s U.S. Open, Brantmeier and her doubles partner, Clervie Ngounoue, won their first-round match of doubles before falling in the second round to fellow American Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Australian Ellen Perez. The first-round win was Brantmeier’s first in a Grand Slam match in the pro division of the U.S. Open. 

“It was pretty incredible,” she said. “Last year, I was in women’s qualifying, but I didn’t make the main draw. So, winning the main draw match was such a big milestone.” 

Brantmeier may be the only first-year on the Tar Heels' roster, but this is not the first time she has stood out on a grand stage.

The No. 1 ranked player in the class of 2022 developed a stellar tennis resume before signing with UNC’s storied program, which has won the last three ITA indoor championships. After competing in various junior Grand Slam and major Grand Slam events throughout her middle school and high school career, this was Brantmeier’s third appearance at the U.S. Open’s pro division. She made her first appearance at 14 years old.  

“To see tennis at that level at 14 is one thing, but to be playing in it and to see yourself compared directly at that level has been so helpful,” Brantmeier said.

In 2021, Brantmeier competed at Grand Slam junior events at the French Open, U.S. Open and Wimbledon. She advanced to the third round of singles and the semifinals of doubles at Wimbledon, and reached the finals of doubles and the second round of singles in the U.S. Open. 

With all of this success early in her career, Brantmeier wrestled with the decision of playing in college or immediately turning pro. The UNC women’s tennis coaching staff held a scholarship for her over the years, losing out on other valuable recruits for the possibility of Brantmeier coming to Chapel Hill.

“We probably conversed with her through Zoom and phone calls more than anybody we’ve ever recruited,” head coach Brian Kalbas said. 

Tyler Thomson, UNC's associate head coach who accompanied Brantmeier at the U.S. Open, noted that her recruiting process was not based solely on her athletic ability and tennis skill. He said that Brantmeier's humble character and desire to improve, even at the highest level, was central to UNC's desire to recruit her.

“It’s huge for us knowing we are adding someone who will sustain and add to our team dynamic and our culture,” Thomson said. “And to have someone who’s as skilled as she is just adds amazing depth to our team.”

After this monumental year in her career, Brantmeier still has aspirations for what she can continue to achieve at the next level — both professionally and in college.

“Obviously, I hope to be back at the U.S. Open,” she said. “But I’m so new to the environment of college tennis. I’m so excited to play for a team, because that is an experience that is unheard of in other parts of tennis.”  

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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