CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Chapel Hill native Robert Kelly has signed a National Letter of Intent to play collegiate men's tennis at the University of North Carolina, UNC head coach Sam Paul announced Tuesday. Kelly attends Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C.
Kelly is a gifted two-sport athlete who until the age of 15 played high level soccer as well as tennis. On the pitch, he was a member of the Triangle United Gold team in the U.S. Soccer Olympic Development Program. At that time he made a switch to focus exclusively on tennis and has developed into one of the most sought-after junior players in the country over the past two years.
"For me, UNC was the perfect mix of academics and sports. To be a national championship contender and benefit from an amazing academics setup at Carolina is hard to find anywhere else," says Kelly. "The coaches, Sam Paul and Tripp Phillips, are incredible people on and off the court and they know what's best for me in the next four years. It's amazing to be a part of a tradition of greatness and great athletes. UNC is the place for me to be these next four years. It's going to be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work."
Kelly was rated as the nation's #195 recruit on TennisRecruiting.net when he made the switch. Since that time, he has moved up to five-star recruit status as the No. 37 recruit in his class. He is ranked as the fourth best high school player in his class in the South. He finished third at the Southern Championships in singles in 2013 as has also produced stellar doubles results, making the quarterfinals of the National Clay Courts as well as winning the Grade 4 ITF tournament in South Carolina in November 2013.
His TennisRecruiting.net RPI ranking soared from 224 in the nation in 2010 to 12th currently. He was named a 2013 high school All-America and was the 2013 3A individual state champion in North Carolina. Kelly played on state championship teams in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He was the MVP of the state championship tournament in 2013.Kelly is coached by former UNC All-America Brad Pomeroy. He has also worked with Jim McDonald and now trains with Shane Wells at the North Hills Academy in Raleigh, N.C. Kelly comes from a family of Tar Heels as both parents attended UNC where they were Morehead Scholars.