UNC Men’s Tennis Team Captain “Bo” Boyden reflects on the past four years.
To Blaine “Bo” Boyden, tennis is more than just a hobby or extracurricular activity: it’s a way of life. At the same time, the “lone senior” on the UNC Men’s Tennis team insists that the key to winning is treating the sport as simply that—a sport.
“At the end of the day, a match is just a circle on the calendar,” Boyden said.
Boyden credits his athletic achievements to his deep-seated “competitive nature” and “willingness to win,” traits that have fueled him for as long as he can remember. Boyden’s passion for the sport translates to his success as a team captain. His teammates always make the position fun and rewarding.
“Carolina Tennis is a family and those guys are my best friends,” Boyden said of his four years being part of the team. Despite Boyden’s obvious affinity for Carolina Athletics, and the school as a whole, he tried to begin his collegiate journey slightly less biased.
“UNC was always my dream school but I didn’t want to take that going into the recruitment process; I didn’t want that to weigh on my decision,” Boyden said. “But from the second I stepped on campus, I just kind of realized this is a community I wanted to be a part of.”
From his start on the team as a first-year, Boyden has experienced highs and lows. By his junior year, Boyden finished with the team’s best singles mark of 23-2. Most recently, Boyden was honored with the Athletic Director’s Scholar Athlete Award, at halftime of the UNC Men’s basketball game against Florida State University (2/23). But it was during Boyden’s first year on the team when he suffered his self-proclaimed “worst match.”
“I didn’t play well,” Boyden said. Overthinking led him to put too much pressure on the match at hand. Having learned from his mistakes, Boyden’s motto since then has been to avoid hyping up any one game, set or match.
“Tennis is such a mental game and you have to trust the work you put in,” Boyden said. In regards to Boyden’s more technical skills, some come easier than others.
“I’m constantly working on my return of serves,” Boyden said. On the flipside, he believes that his serve is one of his most impressive techniques. However, like all experienced athletes, Boyden never underestimates the potential of progress.
“Really, you can look to improve everywhere,” Boyden said. And the secret to his improvement?
“Hard work, sacrifice, leadership,” Boyden said. One of those sacrifices has involved finding a balance between academics and athletics.
Boyden believes that time management is an essential piece to staying on top of schoolwork while practicing and competing on the tennis court.
And although “the days are busy,” Boyden has no regrets and feels grateful for the opportunities he has faced during his college career.
“Tennis is everything to me and has built me into the person I am today,” Boyden said. Boyden also credits his personal development to his father and grandfather, along with his coach, Sam Paul.
“He cares so much about his players,” Boyden said of Coach Paul. “He knows when I’m having a bad day and when I’m having a good day. He knows how to push me,” Boyden said.
When it comes down to preparation before a match, Boyden combines strategy (e.g. circuit training and an early start) with superstition.
“I listen to the same playlist before every match,” Boyden said. He puts full trust into his “game shoes,” and has to wear white socks. Boyden also turns off his phone, talks to his parents, and says a few prayers before heading onto the court.
Once on the court, he brings as much energy to the match as possible. Relying on the power of persistence and intimidation, Boyden always shows his opponent that he “will never back down.”
Although he currently feels more comfortable playing singles, Boyden is a fan of playing doubles.
“I enjoy getting to work with a partner and feeding off of their energy,” Boyden said.
Post-match, Boyden typically engages in team and trainer stretching sessions, along with a mix of hot and cold therapy, in order to recover as quickly as possible.
When asked to give guidance to those just starting out with the sport, Boyden offered a few pieces of advice.
“It’s really about how you use those tough times to bounce back,” Boyden said of moving forward from mistakes.
“Belief in tennis is everything; it’s the sport of ‘dreaming big,’” Boyden said.