Jan. 22, 2016
THE FLATS – Looking to build upon a 2-0 start, Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team heads to the West coast this weekend to participate in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, hosted by UCLA in Los Angeles, Calif.
The Yellow Jackets, No. 42 in this week’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, face 46th-ranked New Mexico in Saturday’s first round at 12 noon Eastern time, while host UCLA, ranked 12th, meets SMU, ranked No. 62, in the other Saturday matchup. The winners will meet at 4 p.m. ET Sunday, and the consolation match will be played at 1 p.m. The team that wins twice advances to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, Feb. 11-15, in Chicago, Ill.
The UCLA site is one of 15 being held around the country in men’s tennis this weekend. Tech’s women are hosting one of the 15 Kick-Off Weekends being conducted in women’s tennis.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech began its quest for a second straight berth to the NCAA Tournament, and the 16th under head coach Kenny Thorne, with a 4-3 win over East Tennessee State and a 6-1 victory over Presbyterian on Jan. 13, then hosted the MLK Invitational last weekend, a hidden-dual tournament with no team scores, against No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 7 Georgia and No. 19 Mississippi.
After winning its opening match against Pacific, New Mexico lost five straight in a four-team event last weekend in Lubbock Texas, including a 4-1 defeat to 15th-ranked Texas Tech. UCLA has played just one dual, defeating San Francisco, 7-0, on Wednesday, as well as participating in a pair of tournaments. Saturday’s match against the Bruins will be SMU’s first competition since the fall.
SINGLES UPDATE – The Yellow Jackets are led at the top of their lineup by 6-foot-7 sophomore Christopher Eubanks (Atlanta, Ga.), who has won all four of his spring matches to date, all in straight sets and including a 6-4, 7-5 decision over Oklahoma’s Axel Alvarez-Llamas, who finished last spring ranked No. 6. Eubanks, ranked No. 6 now, compiled an 11-4 record in the fall and reached the semifinals of the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, knocking off three ranked foes in the process.
Tech has plenty of experience behind him, including senior Nathan Rakitt (Marietta, Ga.), who has 60 career singles victories, senior Casey Kay (Atlanta, Ga.), juniors Carlos Benito (Madrid, Spain) and Cole Fiegel (Alachua, Fla.), who have 103 career singles wins between them, and a pair of sophomores in Elijah Melendez (Suwanee, Ga.). Freshman Andrew Li (Hong Kong), who was 7-7 in the fall, has won three of his four matches to start the spring.
DOUBLES UPDATE – Thorne has plenty of options with which to fill out the lineup card, but liked the development of Michael and Casey Kay, who compiled an 8-3 record in the fall and won the Georgia Tech Fall Invitational. They won both of their matches in the double-header against ETSU and Presbyterian playing No. 1 and are ranked No. 36 nationally. Thorne mixed and matched his other players last week, getting three wins in four tries in the ETSU/Presbyterian double-header and a 4-7 mark in the MLK event.
HEAD COACH Kenny Thorne SAYS – “We’re really looking forward to this weekend. New Mexico had a good season last year so we are excited to play them. It is good to play teams we don’t normally play during the season. We lost a tough match last year to Columbia in first round of NCAA tournament so we would like to improve on that this year in national tournaments.”
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Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is beginning its fifth year under head coach Brian Gregory. The Yellow Jackets have been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won three ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993), played in the NCAA Tournament 16 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB).