UNC Men’s and Women’s Tennis Secure Top 10 Victories

It was a big weekend for UNC tennis as both the men’s and women’s teams welcomed top 10 opponents to Chapel Hill.

The No. 10 men’s team earned a victory over seventh-ranked Illinois on Saturday night at Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center; the first victory for the Tar Heels over a higher-ranked opponent this season.

It was an impressive victory as Carolina swept the Fighting Illini 4-0.

Meanwhile, the fifth-ranked women’s team hosted No. 9 Texas A&M on Sunday and matched the men’s dominance with a 4-0 victory.

The schedule doesn’t let up for either squad. The women’s team will now travel to Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday to defend its title at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. The men’s squad will host another top 10 team next weekend when the Tar Heels welcome in number two Oklahoma on Sunday afternoon.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-and-womens-tennis-secure-top-10-victories

Brett Clark Named ACC Men’s Tennis Player of the Week

UNC senior Brett Clark has been named Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the Week.

The conference announced the honor on Tuesday.

Clark helped the number 10 Tar Heels to two homecourt victories last weekend. Clark secured singles and doubles victories against Indiana and NC State as part of ITA Kickoff competition.

Clark and Robert Kelly, who make up the top-ranked doubles team in the country, secured the victories from the number one doubles line on Saturday and Sunday. Clark also won from the number three singles slot in both days of action.

Carolina will be playing in the ITA National Team Indoors, in Charlottesville, Virginia, in mid-February thanks to the weekend victories.

But first the Tar Heels will host two of the top 10 teams in the country. Number seven Illinois visits Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center on Saturday and number two Oklahoma will travel to Chapel Hill for an afternoon match on February 7.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/brett-clark-named-acc-mens-tennis-player-of-the-week

National Title Runs Begin In Chapel Hill

It will be a busy weekend for many UNC spring sports with NCAA Tournaments getting underway right here in Chapel Hill.

In tennis, second-seeded North Carolina begins its national title quest as a host for the the first and second rounds of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship at Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.

The 27-1 Tar Heels will hope to advance out of a regional that features Dartmouth, Quinnipiac and William & Mary right here in Chapel Hill.

First up, Carolina will take on Quinnipiac at 12 p.m. Saturday.

Brayden Schnur pumps himself up (UNC Athletics)

Brayden Schnur pumps himself up (UNC Athletics)

As for the men’s tennis team, the No. 13 Tar Heels will also be hosting NCAA action at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, but they’ll serve it up Friday at 1 p.m. against William & Mary in round one.

The 21-10 Tar Heels will be hoping to bounce back from a tough loss to Virginia in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

As for the UNC lacrosse teams, the third-seeded Tar Heels, 12-3 overall, will welcome winners of the Patriot League, Colgate, to Chapel Hill Sunday for a game slated for 5:15 p.m.

Head coach Jenny Levy’s women’s lacrosse team, which lost a heartbreaker to Syracuse in the ACC Tournament championship game, will get its NCAA Tournament campaign started Sunday at 1 p.m. at UNC’s Fetzer Field.

The No. 2 Tar Heels will take on the winner of the Florida-Stanford first round game to be contested Friday.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/national-title-runs-begin-in-chapel-hill

Tar Heel Tennis To Host NCAA Tourney Openers

The Tar Heel men’s and women’s tennis teams found out their NCAA Tournament fates Tuesday evening.

For the 13th time in the last 14 seasons, the women will host a home regional – this time as the No. 2 national seed.

Head coach Brian Kalbas’ Tar Heels dropped their first match of the season last weekend in the ACC Tournament and will look to rebound in their NCAA Tournament opener May 9 against Quinnipiac, the MAAC champions.

Should UNC prevail in the opening match, it will face the winner of the contest between William & Mary and Dartmouth the following day.

As for the men’s tennis squad, they’ve been handed a No. 13 seed nationally and will also be hosting here in Chapel Hill May 8. Meeting the Tar Heels in their regional will be William & Mary, Mississippi State and Denver.

For the complete women’s bracket, click here.

For the complete men’s bracket, click here.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-tennis-to-host-ncaa-tourney-openers

Tar Heel Tennis, Lacrosse Blossoming This Spring

Although surrounded by less hype and fanfare than their more famous basketball and football counterparts, UNC’s spring sports teams excel at the highest level year in and year out. 2015 is shaping up to be no exception.

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It’s the rackets and sticks that have been making the loudest noise in Chapel Hill these days.

Out on the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center courts, the Tar Heels are serving up a storm that is led by the ladies.

UNC Women's Tennis Star Jamie Loeb (UNC Athletics)

UNC women’s tennis star Jamie Loeb (UNC Athletics)

The No. 2 UNC women are fresh off an indoor national championship title and are now looking to sweep through the outdoor season. The Tar Heels are unblemished to date, sporting a 23-0 record overall and an 11-0 mark in ACC action.

Led by top 20 national singles players in sophomore duo Jamie Loeb and Hayley Carter, head coach Brian Kalbas’ players are an imposing force to look at across the net.

Coach Kalbas recently eclipsed the 500-win mark in his career, but he credits the talent on the court for achieving that milestone.

“When you win that many matches, it’s because you have good players. They play well and make you look good,” Coach Kalbas says.

Loeb won an individual national title in her maiden season at Carolina, but has been met with more resistance in her second season. Tennis can be a streaky sport.

Coach Kalbas breaks down the strategy in one of Loeb’s most recent tough battles.

“Anytime the girl hit a really good shot, Jamie would cut it off and force her to hit another great shot. The girl wasn’t coming to the net very much. If Jamie would handle her pace, push her back and get on the offense herself, which she started to do in the second and third set – it was really impressive,” Coach Kalbas says.

As for the Tar Heel men, they’ve gone on more of an up-and-down ride this spring. Saddled with a 16-8 record and 5-3 mark in league play, UNC’s No. 2 singles player Ronnie Schneider says the key to postseason success will be getting all the Tar Heels back fully healthy.

Ronnie Schneider strikes a backhand (UNC Athletics)

Ronnie Schneider strikes a backhand (UNC Athletics)

“Our health is probably the most important thing for our team right now. When we put guys on the court, they’re playing well. It’s just that we’ve got to get our top six guys healthy. If we can get healthy now, by the time those two tournaments [ACC and NCAA] hit, we’ll be playing our best tennis,” Schneider says.

Out on the lacrosse field, head coach Joe Breschi has to be pleased with his men’s team thus far. The Tar Heels check in at No. 4 in the national polls and are coming off an impressive road win over No. 6 Virginia in Charlottesville.

Senior Jimmy Bitter, who scored two goals in the win over the Wahoos, says the composure of goalkeeper Kieran Burke gives UNC added confidence.

The men's lacrosse team will hope to repeat 2013's ACC title (Courtesy GoHeels.com)

The men’s lacrosse team will hope to repeat 2013’s ACC title (Courtesy GoHeels.com)

“Kieran Burke is an amazing goalie. No matter what point in the game it is, he’s always level-headed,” Bitter says.

Not to be outdone, the Tar Heel women’s lacrosse team is ranked No. 2 nationally and in search of a national title of their own this spring.

In UNC’s most recent win over fellow top-ten member Louisville, Molly Hendrick netted a career-high five goals to spur on the 18-5 rout of the Cardinals.

So the trees and bushes aren’t the only thing blossoming around Chapel Hill right now – so too are the national championship aspirations of Tar Heels on the tennis courts and lacrosse fields.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-tennis-lacrosse-blossoming-this-spring

Overshadowed Spring Sports Share Same Lofty Goals

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.

UNC winning ITA Indoor National Title. (UNC Athletics)

UNC winning ITA Indoor National Title. (UNC Athletics)

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.

UNC Men's Lacrosse claimed the 2013 ACC Championship. (UNC Athletics)

UNC Men’s Lacrosse claimed the 2013 ACC Championship. (UNC Athletics)

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

Tar Heel Sports Weekend A Mixed Bag

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

Tar Heel Brayden Schnur Qualifies For ATP’s Rogers Cup

Carolina men’s tennis player Brayden Schnur will be taking on the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic this week in Toronto.

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.

Brayden Schnur pumps himself up (UNC Athletics)

Brayden Schnur pumps himself up (UNC Athletics)

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.

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics

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 UNC All-American Nicholas Monroe Making Moves In Paris

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

UNC Men’s Tennis Falls To OU In Final Eight

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

 

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/mens-tennis-falls-ou-final-eight