Sept. 11, 2014
THE FLATS – With four freshmen joining a group of five returning veterans, Georgia Tech begins its 17th year under head coach Kenny Thorne in the Southern Intercollegiate Championships in Athens, Ga., the oldest collegiate tennis event in the South, this weekend at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
The event begins Friday and continues through Monday, when the championship matches in singles and doubles will be held. The field will be divided into three singles divisions and two doubles divisions, and there will be a champion from each division. We will play at least two rounds of singles consolation for first round losers, but no doubles consolation.
Senior Eduardo Segura and sophomore Carlos Benito, both of Madrid, Spain and ranked 20th in the nation as a doubles team, have been made the top seed in the main doubles draw. Junior Nathan Rakitt (Marietta, Ga.), ranked No. 76 in the nation, has drawn the No. 3 seed in the Division I singles draw.
Segura and Rakitt return to lead a young team that also includes sophomores Benito and Cole Fiegel (Alachua, Fla.). Those four endured a struggle at the end of last spring when injuries and other issues left the Yellow Jackets with just five healthy players to play the final month of the season.
Segura and Benito went on to have some success over the summer in tournaments back home, while Cole Fiegel won an ITA Summer Series event in Tallahassee, Fla., and Rakitt reached the semi-finals of the ITA Summer Championship in Bloomington, Ind. Benito and Fiegel each won 20 singles matches last year, while Rakitt won 19. Rakitt begins the fall season No. 76 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles rankings.
Thorne will get his first look in competition at the nation’s 12th-ranked recruiting class, four players ranked among the nation’s top 100 – Christopher Eubanks (Atlanta, Ga.), Michael Kay (Atlanta, Ga.), Elijah Melendez (Suwanee, Ga.) and Daniel Yun (Marietta, Ga.). Eubanks and Kay were the highest-rated in the Tennis Recruiting Network rankings and have gone deep in USTA junior events over the spring and summer.
“The biggest thing for us was to build up the depth that we lacked last spring,” said Thorne. “We brought in four good players, all of them from the Atlanta area, which is important for us. They will give us the numbers we need. We’re looking for the freshmen to come in, know who they are and what they do well, and be willing to do it under pressure. They’ve all done that on the national level.
“This group is gelling together. They like each other. They’re all good guys and are working hard.”
The only player not available for the Yellow Jackets this weekend is junior Casey Kay, older brother of Michael, who is recovering from off-season hip surgery.
On the doubles front Benito and Segura were the Yellow Jackets top team last year, going 12-12 overall and 10-11 in dual matches. Thorne has paired Rakitt and Eubanks together, and they have been seeded third in the main doubles draw. Fiegel will team up with Michael Kay, and the freshmen Melendez and Yun will play together.
The Field – The 2014 tournament features 138 participants from 26 schools: Abraham Baldwin, Arkansas, Armstrong State, Charlotte, Clemson, College of Charleston, Davidson, East Tennessee State, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kennesaw State, Kentucky, Lander, Lipscomb, Mercer, Navy, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Winthrop.
Tournament Format – No-ad scoring will be in place for both singles and doubles. In doubles competition, matches prior to the semifinals will consist of an 8-game pro set (tiebreak at 7-all), with the semifinals and finals doubles matches consisting of two out of three sets (to 6) with a match tiebreak in lieu of the third set.
About Georgia Tech Men’s Tennis
Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team is in its 17th year under head coach Kenny Thorne. The Yellow Jackets have played in the NCAA Championship 14 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.