The North Carolina Tar Heels men’s tennis finished the 2017 campaign as the national runner-up in both the team and singles NCAA championships. With a final Oracle/ITA Division I Collegiate Ranking of third, the Tar Heels conclude the season with their highest final ranking in program history.
UNC started the season on a tear, winning their first 11 matches. Victories during this stretch included defeats of ranked opponents in #17 Illinois, #10 Georgia, and #4 California. Their first loss of the season was to Virginia, which became an unfortunate common theme throughout the year.
The Heels finished the regular season at 23-3, finishing 10-2 in conference play and earning a double-bye as the #3 seed in the ACC Tournament. After defeating Florida State 4-1, Carolina faced Virginia in the semifinals for the third time in 2017. They lost for a third time to the eventual tournament champions.
Carolina earned a national nine seed and opened the NCAA Tournament on their home courts. They handedly defeated VCU and South Carolina in the opening rounds. In the Sweet 16, the Tar Heels defeated California in a rematch from the regular season. That victory put UNC in its fourth Elite Eight in four years. Carolina earned a berth to the program’s first Final Four after the team’s upset of top-seeded Wake Forest.
In the Final Four, UNC faced host site Georgia in what would become a long and interesting match. A four-hour rain delay split the match between outdoor and indoor play. In the final match on Court 6, Blaine Boyden secured the 4-3 victory for the Tar Heels.
In the final match, the Tar Heels faced a familiar foe in Virginia, competing for the fourth and final time in 2017. Unfortunately, UVA completed the season sweep, earning the national title. The Heels finished with a 29-5 record in 2017.
Senior Ronnie Schneider and freshman William Blumberg were invited to the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Singles Championship, and Blumberg and junior Robert Kelly were invited to the Doubles Championship.
In doubles, Kelly and Blumberg reached the NCAA quarterfinals. UNC’s top pair faced Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim of Wake Forest for the third time in 2017. The Demon Deacon duo completed the season sweep after a 10-point tiebreaker in the third set.
In singles, Schneider bowed out in the first round, while Blumberg reached the National Championship. Blumberg lost to senior Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Virginia 6-4, 7-6. The title match was the third meeting between Blumberg and Kwiatkowski this season. In the previous two meetings in the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament, Blumberg defeated Kwiatkowski in straight sets. Blumberg’s historic run to the singles final was the first in program history, with the previous high water mark being the quarterfinals.
This successful and historic season earned many individual accolades that will fill the trophy case at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center:
2017 Men’s Tennis Awards
|Coach Sam Paul||Wilson/ITA National Coach of the Year|
|Ronnie Schneider||ITA National Senior Player of the Year, ITA/Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award, All-ACC First Team, #24 Final Oracle/ITA Singles Ranking|
|William Blumberg||ITA National Rookie of the Year, Doubles All-American, Singles All-American, ACC Freshman of the Year, All-ACC First Team, #6 Final Oracle/ITA Singles Ranking, #4 Final Oracle/ITA Doubles Ranking|
|Robert Kelly||Doubles All-American, All-ACC Second Team, #84 Final Oracle/ITA Singles Ranking, #4 Final Oracle/ITA Doubles Ranking|
|Jack Murray and Simon Soendergaard||#62 Final Oracle/ITA Doubles Ranking|
Congratulations to the men’s tennis team on their successful season and many accomplishments.