All eyes are generally fixed on the basketball hardwood this time of year in Chapel Hill, but a litany of other top-notch UNC sports programs are gearing up for their own chances at ACC and national glory.
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The No. 4 UNC women’s tennis team started off its dual match campaign with a pair of victories over in-state foes.
Last weekend, the Tar Heels decisively served past both Elon and Appalachian State, dropping only one match in the process.
The Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center will play host to one of the nation’s top players. Sophomore Jamie Loeb, currently ranked No. 8 in the nation in singles, spent much of her freshman year sitting atop the rankings after a superb 53-4 season individually.
After falling just short of a national championship in Athens, Georgia a year ago, the Tar Heels, armed with a deep and talented lineup that also includes No. 22 Caroline Price and No. 31 Hayley Carter, could go one better in 2015.
Head coach Brian Kalbas’ Carolina squad will return to action on Jan. 24-25 to face Minnesota and Boston College or LSU.
As for their male counterparts, they’ll be aiming for big things this year as well. The Tar Heel men start off their campaign in the No. 6 position nationally in the preseason rankings released just last week.
UNC returns five starters from last year’s record-breaking team that reached the NCAA quarterfinals. In addition, Carolina also welcomes back senior Esben Hess-Oleson, who sat out last season with an injury, but made significant contributions in previous years.
The Tar Heels return to the courts to open their regular season with home doubleheaders on Jan. 16 and 19.
On the lacrosse field, UNC will yet again be among the nation’s best.
The women’s team begins the year No. 2 in the preseason polls and leads a loaded field in the ACC with five league schools represented in the top seven of the rankings.
With a national championship the goal, it appears the Tar Heels may actually have the talent to do it, with ten UNC women earning spots on the 2015 Face-Off Yearbook preseason All-America team, published by Inside Lacrosse.
As for the men’s lacrosse squad, they check in a few notches lower than the women, but not by much. The Tar Heels were voted as the sixth-best team in the NCAA by the nation’s coaches.
But Carolina will get its chance to prove if it should be placed higher with games against all of the top five-ranked teams looming on its schedule.
Coach Joe Breschi’s team opens its season Feb. 7 at home against Furman.
Although overshadowed by their more famous classmates on the basketball court, at a place like UNC, every sports program seemingly shares the same collective goal – to win a national championship.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/overshadowed-spring-sports-share-lofty-goals/
With the UNC football team enjoying a bye week this past weekend, other fall sports teams took center stage and experienced different results.
UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams says his team’s hard work in practice paid off last Friday night against Belmont Abbey.
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“Well we’re much more gifted naturally than that team was and we’ve been working pretty doggone hard in practice. We’ve been getting after them a little bit and I thought in the first couple minutes we weren’t really in to it defensively and then we were really good defensively,” Coach Williams says.
Although Coach Williams was pleased with his team’s 112-34 win, he did see some room for improvement.
“We look like a Model-T Ford out there compared to how I want them to run. That’s the reason I took those guys out, we had Nate (Britt) and Joel (James) out there and they looked like pedestrians that’s one of the reasons I jumped on them out there. We need to run harder, we need to get out big guys running more. It’s no where near where I want it to be but I think we’re going to get there,” Coach Williams says.
Sophomore forward Isaiah Hicks says the Tar Heels keep the atmosphere light in the locker room.
“(The team) is always together in the locker room playing games like ping-pong. And then you have Joel (James) and Kennedy (Meeks) who are big goof-balls who keep the team laughing and together,” Hicks says.
Ping-pong is one of the team’s favorite ways to stay loose in the locker room but even in ping-pong the Tar Heels keep it competitive
“Marcus…J.P….we have tiers so tier one would be Marcus (Paige), J.P. (Tokoto) and Hoots (Coach Eric Hoots), that’s it,” Hicks says.
UNC volleyball head coach Joe Sagula was once again impressed by his team’s effort following a 3-0 victory over Virginia Tech Sunday.
“We got a lot of weapons and were able to use them all tonight,” Coach Sagula says.
UNC sophomore tennis player Brayden Schnur captured the USTA/ITA National Indoor Collegiate Championships Sunday with a 7-5, 7-6 win over Vanderbilt’s Gonzales Austin.
But not all Tar Heel athletes tasted success over the weekend.
The UNC women’s soccer team lost 2-0 to Virginia in the ACC Tournament semi-finals Friday night
The men’s soccer team lasted only two days longer as they fell 1-0 to Louisville in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Sunday. Following the loss, senior forward Andy Craven says he realizes the regular season is over and that there are things to address before NCAA tournament play begins,
“If anything it was a good indication of where we need to be and what we need to work towards and to know that we haven’t arrived and we haven’t peaked yet. As many goals we’ve scored it doesn’t matter, it’s playoffs now. It’s important to maintain the good stuff we’ve done in the season and minimize the bad stuff,” Craven says.
Although not every Tar Heel was victorious over the weekend, the ultimate prize of a national championship is still within reach.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/mixed-bag-tar-heels-sports-weekend/
Schnur, a sophomore at UNC, qualified for the Rogers Cup, an ATP masters series event, over the weekend with a pair of commanding straight-set wins over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita and Australia’s Matthew Ebden. The latter is ranked inside the top 100 in the world.
Schnur is currently ranked No. 609 in the ATP rankings, but that’s sure to change following the Rogers Cup.
Being a Canadian, himself, Schnur’s unlikely heroics in his home country are made all the more special. He says his dream is to play the game full-time professionally.
The 19-year-old enrolled at UNC in January and made quite a splash in his freshman campaign for the Tar Heels, who were knocked out in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
Schnur will take on Italy’s Andrea Seppi, ranked No. 48 in the world, in the opening round. If Schnur is able to get past the crafty Italian, he could face a potential second-round meeting with American No. 1 and Greensboro native John Isner.
You can follow Schnur’s progress in the Rogers Cup at rogerscup.com.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-brayden-schnur-qualifies-atps-rogers-cup/
Former North Carolina men’s tennis player Nicholas Monroe claimed a 6-3, 7-5 first round victory over Slovak Martin Klizan and Austrian Dominic Thiem alongside his doubles partner Simon Stadler Tuesday at the French Open in Paris.
The Chapel Hill resident and 2004 graduate of the University will now face the thirteenth-seeded pair of Dutchman Jean-Julian Rojer and Romanian Horia Tecau in the second round along with his playing partner.
Monroe turned professional in 2004 following graduation and is currently ranked 62 in the doubles world rankings.
The 32-year-old snagged his first ATP title in his career with Stadler at the 2013 Swedish Open.
While at UNC, Monroe earned All-American recognition and was named Carolina’s Senior Male Student-Athlete of the Year in 2004.
You can follow Monroe’s up-to-the-minute progress in the second grand slam of the year at rolandgarros.com.http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/former-unc-american-nicholas-monroe-making-moves-paris/
The seventh-ranked North Carolina men’s tennis team fell to second-ranked Oklahoma 4-2 Sunday night in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in Athens, Georgia.
The Tar Heels finished at 27-6 overall on the season, a school record for victories. The Sooners improved to 27-3 on the year and advanced to play in the semifinals Monday.
Carolina got off to a good start by grabbing the doubles point. No. 1 singles player Brayden Schnur also recorded an upset win in three tight sets over the fifth-ranked singles player in the country.
But ultimately, the Sooners proved too tough on the other singles courts. Oklahoma boasts four players ranked inside the top 55 in the national rankings.
Next up for the Tar Heels comes some individual competition. Carolina will be represented in the NCAA singles and doubles Championships, starting Wednesday. A pair of UNC freshmen, Brayden Schnur and Ronnie Schneider, will play in the singles tournament while Schnur will team with sophomore Brett Clark in the doubles tournament, due to begin on Thursday
The seventh-ranked men, 26-5 on the season, advanced to the final sixteen with a 4-1 victory over South Carolina Sunday at Chapel Hill’s Cone-Kenfield Center. Carolina will face a stern test in Athens in the form of the eighth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs on Friday.
On their home courts, the Bulldogs will be an even tougher hurdle for Head Coach Sam Paul’s squad. Carolina will lean heavily two freshmen. Brayden Schnur, from Ontario, and Ronnie Schneider, from Indiana, were recently honored by the International Tennis Association.
Schnur was named ITA Carolina Region Rookie Player of the Year while Schneider was tapped as the ITA Carolina Region to Watch. Both are now eligible for national ITA awards.
The Tar Heel men are 7-11 all-time against the Bulldogs.
As for the women, the seventh-seeded Tar Heels, 26-5 on the season, booked their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen with a dominating 4-0 win over Georgia State last Saturday.
UNC now faces No. 10 Texas A&M Thursday on the courts of Athens.
As always, Carolina will depend on the reliability of the No.1 overall singles player in the nation, Jamie Loeb, and her fifth-ranked teammate, Hayley Carter.
Head Coach Brian Kalbas, however, says the Tar Heels will need to rely on their depth to ultimately progress further in the postseason.
“We’ve been really reliant on our top two players. Our two freshmen have been outstanding. For us to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, we’re going to need other players to step up,” Coach Kalbas says.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/athens-bound-tar-heel-tennis-sweet-sixteen-play/
The UNC men’s tennis team beat South Carolina 4-1 on Sunday in Chapel Hill to move on to the NCAA Sweet 16.
With the win, the Tar Heels improved to 26-5 on the year, breaking the all-time team record for wins in a season set back in 1992 and tied in 2006. This marks Carolina’s eighth appearance in the Sweet Sixteen.
The seventh-ranked Tar Heels now head to Athens, Georgia, where they’ll face No. 8 Georgia on Friday at 4:00 p.m. The tenth-seeded Bulldogs are the host school for the rest of the tournament; they knocked UNC out of the tournament in 2012, the last time Carolina reached the Sweet Sixteen.
Elsewhere, the third-seeded UNC women’s lacrosse team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals with a 10-8 win over Georgetown on Sunday at Fetzer Field. Abbey Friend scored four goals to lead the way; she now has 195 goals in her career, surpassing the old school record of 192 set by Corey Donohoe.
Carolina will face Virginia in the quarterfinals next Saturday, also at Fetzer Field. The No. 11 Cavaliers reached the quarters with a 13-11 win over Princeton on Sunday.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-tennis-womens-lax-advance-ncaas/
It will be a busy weekend for the tennis courts in Cary as the ACC schools target an ACC title after months of intense competition.
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The Tar Heel men’s squad has claimed a No. 3 seed in the bracket following a successful 22-4 campaign overall, including a 9-2 mark in conference action.
Carolina, afforded a bye in the first round, will open proceedings against the winner of Thursday’s match between No. 6 N.C. State and No. 11 Georgia Tech.
Carolina’s Ronnie Schneider will be one to watch on the courts this weekend for the men after an impressive conference run.
The Carolina women will go into the ACC Tournament as favorites for the title. The top-seeded Tar Heels are led by the No. 1 singles player in the nation, Jamie Loeb.
Loeb says she feels the team is coming together at just the right time.
“We did start off the season pretty high and have had some ups and downs, but now we’ve improved our unity in the team. I think we’ve found our identity,” Loeb says.
Loeb doesn’t hide the fact that her competitive fire burns, propelling her to play each and every match with intensity.
“I use that as motivation because I want to maintain my ranking. I don’t want to lose because I’m very competitive,” Loeb says.
2014 marks the second straight season Carolina has entered the final league tournament as the top-seeded team. The Tar Heels will take on the victor out of the match pitting No. 8 Florida State against No. 9 Syracuse.
Loeb is a hot favorite to win every time she strides out onto the court. All of her opponents would love to get a signature scalp, but Loeb says she relishes the opportunity to focus on the business on her own side of the net.
“I want it for myself. I try not to think of what everybody else is thinking or if they’re gunning for me or not. I just focus on what I need to do,” Loeb says.
The UNC women will be searching for their seventh ACC championship and first since 2011 when Loeb and the rest of the Tar Heels serve it up Friday.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-tennis-teams-descending-cary-shots-acc-glory/
Carolina is making some noise on the tennis courts in 2014. Both the men’s and women’s squads are aiming at ACC, and possibly even national titles.
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The No. 11 men’s team, 13-2 on the season, is coming off a 7-0 demolition of Longwood Monday evening.
Earlier in the day, the Tar Heels took down No. 7 Texas 4-3 in a huge showdown between national title hopefuls.
It was a successful doubleheader thanks to a pair of talented freshmen, Ronnie Schneider and Jack Murray. The two dropped only a single game in four sets between them and also teamed up for an 8-0 doubles win.
The men will again take the court on Friday against No. 19 N.C. State in Raleigh.
The Tar Heel women wrapped up a winning weekend with a 6-1 victory over Virginia Tech Sunday to improve to 13-2 on the season and 5-1 in ACC play.
Freshman sensation Jamie Loeb says she and teammate Hayley Carter both push the team to new heights.
“Both of us keep pushing each other and pushing the team itself. Everybody is willing to improve and look to be the best. I feel that’s really helping us,” Loeb says.
Loeb owns a remarkable 34-2 record on the year and is the reigning ACC Player of the Week.
Head Coach Brian Kalbas, however, says it’s Carolina’s team depth that will pay dividends this spring.
“We have tremendous depth throughout our lineup. We’re very fortunate and excited to be able to count on everybody or anybody at any point in time,” Coach Kalbas says.
The ladies are in action Wednesday down in Charleston, where they will serve it up against Appalachian State and the College of Charleston.
As the winter turns to spring, look for the action on the Carolina courts to continue to heat up.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/serving-storm-carolina-tennis-force-reckoned/
Photo courtesy of GoHeels.com
CHAPEL HILL– UNC men’s and women’s tennis have been making some noise on the court lately. Tar Heels Hayley Carter and Jamie Loeb won the doubles draw at the ITA Carolina Regionals earlier this week.
Played at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, Carter and Loeb paired to win the title by defeating their own teammates in the final. They took an 8-4 victory over Laura Slater and Kate Vialle.
But Carolina’s Carter wasn’t finished there. She later went on to play in the singles final. Carter fell in three tight sets to Beatrice Capra, the top-seeded player from Duke.
As for the men, UNC sophomore Brett Clark made it all the way to the singles final at Cary Tennis Park before losing to East Carolina’s Joran Vliegen by a score of 7-5, 6-4.
In his run through the tournament, Clark defeated three nationally ranked players.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-tennis-making-noise-at-regionals/