April 14, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech closes out its regular season in men’s tennis Friday afternoon with a 3 p.m. contest at fifth-ranked North Carolina. The Yellow Jackets need to win Friday to secure a top-4 seed and a first-round bye in next week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.
TEAM UPDATE – Georgia Tech (15-6, 8-3 ACC), No. 30 in this week’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, has its best conference record since 2011 and is bidding to earn its second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth and its 16th under head coach Kenny Thorne. The Yellow Jackets are currently tied for third place with Florida State, but lost to the Seminoles in their regular-season meeting. A win over the Tar Heels would cement a No. 4 seed in the ACC Championship and with it a bye into the quarterfinals next week. A loss would make Tech the No. 5 seed.
North Carolina (22-3 overall, 7-3 ACC), currently ranked fifth in the nation, has held the top spot in the ITA rankings for seven weeks during the spring. The Tar Heels’ only losses have come to No. 22 Florida State and Notre Dame on the road, and to No. 7 Wake Forest at home
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 a 17-2 dual match record and a 9-1 ACC mark. His only losses have come to players ranked No. 20 and No. 11, both on the road.
Junior Carlos Benito (Madrid, Spain) has won 10 of his last 13 matches playing at the No. 2 position, 7-3 in ACC competition, and has entered the national singles rankings at No. 110. Head coach Kenny Thorne has shuffled players at the other four positions, 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 12 decisions and is 8-1 in ACC matches, and freshman Andrew Li (Hong Kong) is 9-9 this spring, and No. 6.
DOUBLES UPDATE – Tech has won the doubles point in 17 of 21 contests, including seven of the 11 ACC matches. The Yellow Jackets’ No. 1 team of Casey and Michael Kay, ranked No. 34 nationally, knocked off a pair of top-15 teams from Florida State and Notre Dame and are 7-6 this spring. The No. 2 team of Benito and Eubanks is 12-3, having been ranked as high as No. 64, and the third team of Rakitt and Li is 10-5.
HEAD COACH Kenny Thorne SAYS – “We have been playing better as the season has gone along. UNC has had their best season since I have been coaching. We have always had tough matches with them, and I expect the same this year. We have had a lot of tough road matches, so we should know what to expect. The ACC is very tough so you either get tough or get beat. We will focus on ourselves and executing what we do best and that is all.”