May 12, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team opens play in the NCAA Championship Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern time against 46th-ranked UC-Santa Barbara in the opening round of the NCAA regional being played on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
REGIONAL INFORMATION – The Gauchos (17-6), ranked 46th in the nation, is an automatic qualifier into the regional after winning the Big West Conference title, while the Yellow Jackets are seeded No. 2. Mountain West champion UNLV (15-9) takes on host USC (15-6), ranked No. 11 nationally and the No. 10 overall seed in the NCAA Championship, at 4 p.m. ET. The winners will face off at 4 p.m. ET Saturday, May 14, for the right to advance to the NCAA Championship round of 16, which begins May 19 in Tulsa, Okla.
All 16 regional tournaments will take place this weekend, with the survivor or each moving on to the NCAA Championship site.
The 64-team field includes 31 automatic qualifiers as conference champions and 33 at-large teams. Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed and one of the 16 hosts along with (in order of national seed) North Carolina, UCLA, TCU, Ohio State, Wake Forest, Georgia, Texas Tech, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, California, Northwestern, Illinois and Oklahoma State.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech (16-8, 8-4 ACC) is ranked No. 32 in this week’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, and posted its best Atlantic Coast Conference record since 2011, is in the NCAA Championship for the second straight year, finishing the regular season in fifth place. The Yellow Jackets posted a 11-1 record at home, with the only loss to No. 1 Virginia, and went 1-1 in the ACC Championship.
SINGLES UPDATE – The Yellow Jackets are led at the top of their lineup by 6-foot-7 sophomore Christopher Eubanks (Atlanta, Ga.), is No. 7 in the ITA rankings this week with an 19-2 dual match record and an 11-1 ACC mark. Named the ACC Player of the Year last week, Eubanks’ only losses have come to players ranked No. 20 and No. 11, both in road matches. He has also received a bid to the NCAA Singles Championship, which will begin May 25, following the NCAA Team Championship in Tulsa, Okla.
Junior Carlos Benito (Madrid, Spain) has won 10 of his last 15 matches playing at the No. 2 position, 7-4 in ACC competition, and is ranked No. 113 nationally after entering the national singles rankings two weeks ago. Head coach Kenny Thorne has shuffled players at the other four positions during the spring, most recently elevating junior Cole Fiegel (Alachua, Fla.) to the No. 3 position and sophomore Daniel Yun (Marietta, Ga.) to No. 4. The Jackets have been strong at the fifth and sixth positions, where senior Nathan Rakitt (Marietta, Ga.) has won 11 of his last 14 decisions and went 8-2 in ACC matches, and senior Michael Kay (Alpharetta, Ga.) moved into the bottom spot for the ACC Championship.
DOUBLES UPDATE – Tech has won the doubles point in 18 of 24 contests, including eight of the 12 ACC matches. The Yellow Jackets’ No. 1 team of Casey and Michael Kay, ranked No. 38 nationally, knocked off a pair of top-15 teams from Florida State and Notre Dame and are 8-8 this spring. The No. 2 team of Benito and Eubanks is 14-3, with a season-high national ranking of No. 37, and the third team of Rakitt and freshman Andrew Li is 12-6.
HEAD COACH Kenny Thorne SAYS – “We had our exams and the school factor wasn’t in play, so we had two or three days to come out here and get used to the environment. [Wednesday] we got a good, solid workout in. Thursday is the first day we can get on the courts and practice where the matches will be played. The guys did a really good job of practicing through exams and also doing well on their exams. We haven’t seen Santa Barbara, but we know they have a talented team; they have won several matches in a row and won their conference. But if we execute and do what we need to do, I feel good about things.”
TECH’s NCAA HISTORY – Georgia Tech has made the NCAA Championship field for the 12th time under head coach Kenny Thorne and the 16th time in program history. Tech is the field for the second straight year, having been eliminated in the opening round last year by Columbia in Oxford, Miss. Under the current format of the championship, Tech has made it to the round of 16 at the championship site only once, in 2011. The Jackets’ deepest run in the NCAAs came in 1994, when Tech won three matches before being eliminated. Tech is 9-15 all-time in NCAA Championship competition.
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 16 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.