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Three takeaways from UNC men's tennis performance at the Tom Chewning Invitational

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Then Sophomore Peter Murphy returns a volley with a backhand swing during his singles match. UNC beat Georgia Tech 7-0 on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

The North Carolina men's tennis team hosted the Tom Chewning Invitational in Chapel Hill this weekend, with four Tar Heels competing in both singles and doubles events.

The invitational was an important precursor to the fall slate of ITA events, including the All-American and National Fall Championships. UNC previewed matchups with a field consisting of Duke, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Furman, Virginia Commonwealth and N.C. Central.

Here are three takeaways from the weekend as the program enters its 31st year under Hall of Fame head coach Sam Paul.

Newcomers perform with poise 

Of the four Tar Heels participating in the event, sophomore Dennis Perumov and graduate Will Peters had strong debuts in Tar Heel uniforms. 

Perumov, a Chapel Hill native, notched six points in the tournament, posting a 3-2 record. Securing a pair of wins against N.C. Central — both in straight sets — the walk-on’s scrappy singles effort was a promising sign for UNC’s slew of new talent.

Peters put together a stellar outing, earning a team-high eight points. He displayed notable resiliency against N.C. State’s Joseph Wayand, outlasting a second-set tiebreak loss to eventually claim a 2-1 victory on Saturday.

Another important benefit of preseason invitationals is the ability to test out new combinations of doubles pairings.

As a duo, Perumov and Peters split their matches on Friday, falling to Duke's Faris Khan and Michael Heller, 6-3, and beating N.C. Central's Naresh Bharathy and Neiman Sneed, 6-3. Peters also competed alongside senior Peter Murphy on Saturday, notching on a 6-4 victory against Furman duo Ben Cahill and Emil Westling.

Adapting to change

Tropical Storm Ophelia hampered Saturday’s action, forcing the competition indoors. 

However, UNC took the change in stride, winning all of its matches on the tournament's second day. Murphy's convincing 2-0 (6-4, 6-1) singles triumph highlighted North Carolina's showing, and the Tar Heels' momentum carried into Sunday, with the team winning two of its three singles matches under the roof.

After dropping three total matches on Friday, UNC's bounce-back performance for the rest of the weekend was indicative of its adaptability. As the Tar Heels gear up for the fall ITA circuit, emphasizing versatility will be integral to their success.

Grit against formidable conference opposition

The Chewning Invitational represented an early litmus test for UNC, as it will regularly compete with powerhouse ACC programs this year.

CourtHive, an open-source platform for tennis data analysis, designated exactly 50 percent of the weekend’s matches as "competitive," but only 7.35 percent as “decisive." Put differently, this meant that the Swiss system of pairing utilized for the tournament yielded evenly drawn-up matches.

With the Tar Heels tallying wins against N.C. State and Wake Forest, UNC is poised to pick up where it left off after finishing third in the ACC regular season last year. If this weekend was any indication, North Carolina looks equipped to build upon its prior regional success as it looks to make another deep tournament run.

@moiramartin010

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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