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UNC men's tennis player and London native Will Jansen excels early in season

First-year Will Jansen competes against Boston College at the Chapel Hill Tennis Club on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023.

You would never guess that Will Jansen just arrived in Chapel Hill. 

From the confidence he displays on the court to his friendly demeanor on the sidelines, the men’s tennis player appears right at home.

In reality, though, Jansen is as new as they come. 

The London native is currently in the first semester of his first year of college, thousands of miles away from his family and friends. He has a lot on his plate, though, as he's been consistently playing both No. 3 singles and doubles for UNC during the indoor season. 

In his short time so far at UNC, Jansen has made an immediate impact. He’s won six singles matches and seven doubles matches in nine appearances. With the small margin of error afforded to teams in collegiate tennis matches, every point counts, and Jansen has already come up big on several instances.  

“He's really talented — left-handed, big serve,” head coach Sam Paul said. “We’re excited to go to work with him.”

Jansen admitted that the change was extreme, but he’s doing his best to step into his new role at North Carolina.

“I want to impress everyone on the team,” he said after winning his first two career matches in a sweep of Campbell on Jan. 19.

He has the background and ability to do just that. Jansen was raised with tennis in his blood. He first picked up a racket at age five, when he tagged along with his father when he went to the courts to play with friends. 

“It started off there and I just fell in love with the sport, really,” Jansen said. 

Both his father and his older brother are avid players, and their passion for the game rubbed off on Jansen.

“We’d get into arguments because we were so competitive," Jansen said.

Before long, his talent and dedication earned him a spot at one of the United Kingdom's premier tennis schools, Reed’s School Tennis Academy, which has won three World Schools Championships and 43 national championships in the past 20 years. 

Under the tutelage of Reed’s head coach Ben Haran, he continued to improve steadily, consistently being the No. 1 ranked player in his age group up until he reached the competitive 18-and-under circuit. In 2021, he became the British 18-and-under national champion, cementing himself as one of the best junior tennis players in the county. 

After graduating from Reed’s, Jansen had the opportunity to take on some of the biggest stages in the world of junior tennis. In the fall he competed in M15 tournaments in Egypt and Kuwait, and he most recently traveled to New York to compete in the U.S. Open Junior Championships. 

However, his favorite moment in his career thus far is playing in the Wimbledon Junior Championships this past summer. Despite falling in the second round, Jansen said the opportunity to play at such a storied venue was unforgettable.

Getting to compete on the same courts as his childhood heroes only reinforced his dreams of playing professional tennis. That's the reason he moved across the Atlantic to attend UNC. 

“I really felt like this was the next step to professional tennis and developing my game in the right way,” he said. “I got a great vibe from the team, great vibe from the coaches and I just felt this was the right university for me.” 

Jansen is just as memorable off the court as on it. When not playing, he is the first to cheer for his teammates, often partaking in boisterous sideline celebrations after a teammate wins a particularly impressive point. On any given match, spectators will surely hear his voice echoing off the walls of the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. 

Because of this, Jansen has immediately clicked with the rest of the team. 

“He’s got good energy and definitely gets fired up and he keeps everyone engaged,” Jansen’s doubles partner graduate Karl Poling said.

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Down the line, Jansen hopes to utilize this energy to achieve his dreams — the first one being an NCAA title with the Tar Heels.

With the start he's gotten at UNC, he’s well on his way there.


@dthsports |

Gwen Peace

Gwen Peace is the 2023-24 assistant sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as a senior writer. Gwen is a sophomore pursuing a double major in media and journalism and peace, war and defense.