Men's Tennis Faces Top-50 Teams at ITA Kickoff
Jan. 29, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina men's tennis, ranked No. 52 in the country, has its work cut out for it in the ITA Kickoff Weekend event at University of Georgia's Hopkins Indoor Courts at Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The Gamecocks open against No. 3 Georgia on Fri., Jan. 30, at 2 p.m., and will play either No. 34 Washington or No. 44 Indiana on Sat., Jan. 31, at 9 a.m. The field features three nationally-ranked singles players, including Carolina junior Diego Cubas (No. 42), three regionally-ranked singles players and two regionally-ranked doubles teams.
South Carolina is 3-0 to start the season after a nail-biting 5-2 win over No. 58 Georgia Tech last Saturday. The Gamecocks have lost just one doubles match in nine sets and have won 15 of 18 singles matches since dual-match play began this month. Senior Jaime Cuellar, junior Ivan Cressoni and sophomore Johannes Pulsfort are undefeated this month, playing at Nos. 3, 6, 5 singles, respectively. Cuellar and Cressoni were the only Carolina singles matches against Georgia Tech that were decided in straight sets. Cubas is the Gamecocks' No. 1 singles player, toting a 13-2 record this season and a No. 42 national rank. Against Georgia Tech, he battled No. 14 Guillermo Gomez to three sets in Cubas' lone loss of the spring.
No. 3 Georgia has won its lone dual match so far this season, a 7-0 sweep of Clemson on Tuesday. The Bulldogs have a collective 81-46 singles record this season and are 32-22 in doubles play. Junior Nate Schnugg leads the Bulldog lineup with a 16-7 singles record and is ranked 18th in the nation. Four of his wins have come against players ranked in the nation's top 20 at the time of the match. Junior Jamie Hunt, ranked 35th in the country, is the Bulldogs' No. 2 singles player. His 15-4 singles record is buoyed by a straight-set win over then-No. 15 Bassam Beldas of Pepperdine in October. The two combine to form the nation's 40th-ranked doubles team, playing the No. 1 position for Georgia. The tandem boasts a 10-5 record this season, including the title at the ITA Southeast Regional in October.
No. 34 Washington is 3-1 early in the dual-match portion of its 2008-09 schedule, recording wins over Eastern Washington, Portland and San Francisco. The Huskies' lone loss was a 1-6 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Ohio State on Sunday. A pair of Washington players are ranked in the West Region, led by No. 1 singles player Patrik Fischer, who brings his No. 20 regional ranking and a 3-1 dual-match record to Athens. Sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan is the West Region's No. 23 player and is also 3-1 in singles play, logging a 2-1 mark at No. 2 in the lineup. The two team up to form the No. 4 doubles team in the West Region and posted a 6-2 record in the fall. They have not played together in a dual match yet this season. The Huskies also have the region's 12th-ranked doubles team in junior Derek Drabble and sophomore Martin Kildahl. The duo was 4-2 in the fall but also have not played together in a dual match.
No. 44 Indiana rounds out the bracket and is 4-2 in dual-match play this season. The Hoosiers have logged a huge number of matches in 2008-09, going 110-59 in singles and 43-31 in doubles matches. Sophomore Lachlan Ferguson is ranked No. 23 in the Midwest Region with an 11-4 record, including a 2-2 mark in dual matches. Freshman Will Kendall has played everywhere but the top and bottom of the Hoosiers' dual-match lineup and is a team-best 16-5 this season, including a 4-1 mark in dual matches. Indiana's No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Santiago Gruter and freshman Jeremy Langer is 7-3 on the season with a 5-1 mark in dual matches.
The team that prevails in this weekend's bracket will advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships to be played Feb. 13-16 at Midtown Tennis Club in Chicago.