Jan. 14, 2010
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team opens its spring season this weekend with three home matches at the Bill Moore Tennis Center, opening with UAB at 2 p.m. on Friday. The Yellow Jackets, No. 43 in the first spring Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, host a pair of matches Sunday against USC-Upstate (9 a.m.) and Georgia Southern (2 p.m.).
Admission is free for all three matches. Live scoring online will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com. Upstate enters the spring ranked No. 72 in the ITA poll.
Head coach Kenny Thorne enters his 12th dual-match season at the helm of a Tech team that boasts All-American Guillermo Gomez, the nation’s fourth-ranked player in singles, and a sophomore ranked No. 112 nationally, Dusan Miljevic.
“I think our guys decided before we left that they wanted to come back as ready as we possibly could considering all of the time off during Christmas. I’m pleased,” said Thorne. “The guys came back, and obviously they’re excited. But I think, playing-wise, we’re in pretty good shape. We’re going to play better at the end of January than we will in our first few matches, but I think we’re in pretty good shape going in to Friday.”
Gomez, who underwent surgery for two sports hernias during the break, enters the spring tennis season ranked No. 4 in the nation in rankings recently released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. It is the highest singles ranking ever held by a Tech men’s player. A junior from Alicante, Spain, began the fall ranked No. 5 and inched up one spot after winning 13 of 15 singles matches, sharing the championship of the Southern Intercollegiate Championships in Athens, Ga., and advancing to the finals of the ITA Indoor Championships. He enters the spring with a 69-24 career singles record.
“He took it slow (after surgery), but he’s working back,” said Thorne. “He’s back playing sets now. He looks good.”
Miljevic, of Novi Sad, Serbia, enjoyed a strong fall season in which he won nine of 10 singles matches.
“I thought that he had one of the best falls outside of Guillermo that we had,” said Thorne. “He deserves to be ranked, and I think the ranking can go a lot higher. But it’s the consistency factor that I’ve always harped on. If he can bring his consistency from the fall into the spring, then he’s going to have a great year.”
Three other 2009 letterwinners are back in juniors Miguel Muguruza (Wesley Chapel, Fla.), Eliot Potvin (Hampden, Maine) and Ryan Smith (Marietta, Ga.). Muguruza was 11-3 in singles in the fall and went 5-4 in doubles with three different partners. Potvin posted a 6-4 singles mark, while Smith was 5-3. A fourth letterwinner, sophomore Kevin King of Peachtree City, Ga., battled a shoulder injury in the fall and did not play, and will not be ready to compete this weekend.
Thorne has three newcomers on this year’s team, led by Dean O’Brien, a junior from Benmore, South Africa who transferred from Tennessee Tech. O’Brien, who began the fall ranked No. 82, went 5-4 in singles and 3-4 in doubles. Also new to the team are freshmen Magin Ortiga (Cartagina, Colombia) and Juan Spir (Medellin, Colombia). They combined to go 9-9 in singles in the fall, but have shown great promise. One of Spir’s victories came against an opponent ranked No. 11 in the nation.
The Yellow Jackets are squaring off in matches Wednesday and Thursday to earn spots in the six-player lineup for Friday’s match.
Thorne also announced Wednesday that senior Austin Roebuck of Athens, Ga., and junior Doug Kenny of Roswell, Ga., have decided to leave the team and concentrate on academics for the remainder of their time at Tech. Both players had worked primarily at the bottom of Tech’s playing order, Roebuck going 13-8 last year and Kenny 10-7.