March 17, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech attempts to continue its recent roll Friday night at 5 p.m. when it hosts Clemson in an Atlantic Coast Conference men’s tennis match at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex, the Yellow Jackets’ first home contest in more than a month.
THE SCENE – Admission is free to the match, and parking is available to fans along Fowler Street and the McCamish Pavilion lot. The match is expected to be played outdoors with a weather forecast of no rain and high temperatures near 70 degrees on Friday. Georgia Tech is offering free Tech gear and pizza to the first 200 students in the gate at the Byers Tennis Complex.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech (10-4, 3-1 ACC), No. 32 in this week’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, has played all of its ACC matches on the road to date, dropping its opener at No. 7 Wake Forest before reeling off three straight wins over No. 57 Duke (4-3), Louisville (5-2) and No. 27 NC State (5-2). The Yellow Jackets have actually won seven of their last eight matches, a string which includes dominant victories over Auburn at home and Tennessee on the road, both by 6-1 scores and both over teams ranked in the 50s.
Clemson (11-7, 2-1 ACC) got above .500 in conference play last weekend by defeating Notre Dame (4-3) at home and Louisville (5-2) on the road. The Tigers opened ACC competition with a 7-0 loss at No. 23 Florida State.
Tech and Clemson have both lost to South Carolina. Other common non-conference foes between the two teams have been Auburn (Tech won 6-1, Clemson lost 4-3) and Mercer (Tech won 7-0, Clemson split two matches).
SINGLES UPDATE – The Yellow Jackets are led at the top of their lineup by 6-foot-7 sophomore Christopher Eubanks (Atlanta, Ga.), who has slipped from No. 6 at the beginning of the season to No. 15 in the ITA rankings despite compiling a 13-1 record and reeling off wins in his last seven matches. His only loss came against Georgia’s Wayne Montgomery, ranked No. 20 at the time, and he is 8-4 against ranked foes this year.
Junior Carlos Benito (Madrid, Spain) has six of his last seven matches playing at the No. 2 position, and is 3-1 in ACC competition. Head coach Kenny Thorne has shuffled players at the other four positions. Freshman Andrew Li (Hong Kong) won six of his first eight decisions playing lower in the order, but has struggled in ACC play at the No.3 position. Senior Nathan Rakitt (Marietta, Ga.) has heated up, winning five of his last six matches (one no-decision) to improve to 6-2 this spring, playing mostly at No. 6. Daniel Yun, a sophomore from Marietta, Ga., was inserted in the lineup at No. 5 for the start of ACC play and has won all four of his matches.
DOUBLES UPDATE – Tech has won the doubles point in 11 of 14 matches, many times on the strength of their play at the No. 2 and 3 positions. Benito and Eubanks went 6-1 playing in the No. 2 position, and have won all three matches since moving up to the No. 1 spot. Li and Rakitt have won eight of their last 10 matches playing at No. 3 since a loss to No. 12 UCLA.
Casey and Michael Kay, began the season at No. 1 but have played the last three Tech matches at No. 2. They have a 4-4 record with six unfinished matches
HEAD COACH Kenny Thorne SAYS – “Hopefully we’ll get a great crowd out. We’re thrilled to play at home and in front of our fans. We’re in much better shape now and moving better. We’re able to hang in matches a lot longer, and our shot selection becomes better. We’ve made much better decisions lately. Clemson is going to be tough, they’ve had some upsets and are getting stronger.”
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S TENNIS
Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team is in its 18th year under head coach Kenny Thorne. The Yellow Jackets have played in the NCAA Championship 15 times. Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Tennis on social media by liking their Facebook page, or following on Twitter (@GT_MTEN). For more information on Tech men’s tennis, visit Ramblinwreck.com.