Sept. 22, 2011
ATLANTA – Boasting three players ranked among the nation’s top 100 in singles and the nation’s top doubles team, Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team opens its fall schedule in the Southern Intercollegiate Championship in Athens, Ga.
The four-day event begins Friday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex with first-round competition in singles and doubles, and concludes Monday with championship matches in both draws.
Juan Spir, a junior from Medellin, Colombia, is ranked No. 34 in singles after going 22-13 last year, playing mostly at No. 2 in Tech’s dual matches. Kevin King, a senior fromPeachtree City, Ga., ranked No. 85, went 23-8 as a singles player last year, playing mostly at No. 3. Also returning to the Yellow Jackets this fall is Dusan Miljevic, a senior from Novi Sad, Serbia, who went 17-8 a year ago but was able to crack the spring lineup only for seven matches (4-3 record).
“We’ve got a good base,” said head coach Kenny Thorne. “We built up very good momentum last year, and we always want to build. Our expectations are high, and we’ve kept them high. Kevin and Juan have come in and shown that they’re not just interested in competing, but being the best. They want to be successful in both, and they have the games to do so. They have a goal of winning the national title in doubles.”
They are joined by four newcomers, including last year’s Southern Conference Player of the Year, Juan Melian Puigventos, who transferred from Georgia Southern. The junior from Las Palmas, Spain went 22-1 for the Eagles in singles and won his final 16 matches. He enters the fall ranked No. 97.
Also making their debuts this week for the Yellow Jackets are three freshmen, including Vikram Hundal of Chattahoochee High School in Alpharetta, Ga., who was ranked third in the state of Georgia and 30th nationally among junior players; Eduardo Segura Mandarino from Madrid, Spain, ranked among the top 60 players in Spain; and Colin Edwards of Valrico, Fla., a state high school runner-up in doubles.
“[The SIC] becomes a good indicator,” said Thorne. “We’ve got about a month and a half of practice in. A lot of it is conditioning, and a lot of it is mixing and matching doubles teams, and a lot is competition. But this is where we begin to find out what our team is going to be like. Traditionally, a lot of the best players in the nation play here. It’s a very good tournament.
During the fall competition, Thorne not only must identify replacements for three graduated seniors in the spring singles lineup, but replace two successful doubles teams. Tech won the doubles point in 20 of 27 matches last spring, winning all but one of those matches, and the two departed teams combined for a record of 45-18.
King and Spir, who went 34-11 last year and reached the semi-finals of the NCAA Championship, earning All-America honors, enter the fall No. 1 in the initial Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, and have a main draw entry into the ITA All-American Championships next month.
But Thorne, knowing what he has with that duo, is experimenting this weekend by pairing them with other teammates in doubles. King will partner with Miljevic for the SIC, while Spir and Melian will compete together. Hundal and Segura will form the Jackets’ third doubles team.
“We lost two entire doubles teams last year, and a lot of our practice has been devoted to finding teams to replace them. So we’ve had a lot of doubles practice, and teaching some of the fundamentals there. We’re establishing some of the basic things we expect at Georgia Tech.”