Updated Sept. 24, 2010
ATLANTA – All-American Guillermo Gomez is the tournament’s top singles seed, while Kevin King, Eliot Potvin and Juan Spir are among the top 16 seeds as Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team opens its fall schedule Friday in the 43rd annual Southern Intercollegiate Championships in Athens, Ga.
The 2010 SIC, the nation’s oldest fall college tennis tournament features participants from a record 36 schools including Alabama, UAB, Campbell, Central Florida, Chattanooga, College of Charleston, Davidson, Eastern Kentucky, East Tennessee State, Elon, Florida, Georgia, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Liberty, Lipscomb, LSU, Memphis, Mercer, Miami, Middle Tennessee State, UNC Wilmington, Radford, Samford, South Alabama, South Carolina, South Florida, Stetson, Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, USC-Upstate, Vanderbilt, Winthrop and Wofford.
The field, which includes players from 34 teams, is divided into three singles divisions and two doubles divisions, with a champion crowned from each division. Competition continues throughout the weekend at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, with finals in all divisions of singles and doubles set for Monday. There will be a maximum of two rounds of singles consolation for first round losers but no doubles consolation. Play begins Friday at 8 a.m. with singles and continues through Monday afternoon.
“Our kids all came back in really good shape. We’ve really keyed on taking our conditioning up a notch,” said head coach Kenny Thorne, who begins his 13th season at his alma mater with everybody back from last year’s squad that went 18-8 in the spring dual season and made the NCAA Tournament. “We’ve really been going hard for about a month, and some of the guys were here early and have worked longer than that. It’s time to play a tournament.
“These guys have been around and know what to expect. There’s nothing new to them. We’ve been able to hit the ground running since everyone got back.”
Tech enters the fall season with three players ranked among the nation’s top 100 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) singles rankings, led by two-time All-American Gomez, who begins the fall at No. 4 after rising as high as No. 3 last spring. The senior from Alicante, Spain, went 29-8 in singles last year, including 16-7 against nationally-ranked opponents, and enters his final year with 85 career wins, 27 shy of the Tech record set by his head coach.
King is ranked No. 70, and Potvin is No. 80. King, a junior from Peachtree City, Ga., who missed all of last fall recovering from a shoulder injury, went 12-6 in the spring season, playing mostly at No. 2, including an 8-3 mark in ACC matches. Potvin, a senior from Hampden, Maine who was the runner-up in the ITA National Summer Championships, was 22-13 in singles last year and 16-9 in dual matches, playing mostly No. 3.
Also entered in the singles draw for Tech is another pair of seniors in Dean O’Brien (Benmore, South Africa), who went 12-12, and Ryan Smith (Marietta, Ga.), a doubles specialist who was 6-3 in limited singles action.
Dusan Miljevic, a junior from Novi Sad, Serbia, who went 14-6 in singles, along with sophomores Magin Ortiga (Cartagina, Colombia) and Spir (Medellin, Colombia) are entered in the singles draw as well. Ortiga, 20-14 in singles last year, and Spir (15-11), developed into solid contributors for the Yellow Jackets last spring at the bottom of the Tech singles lineup.
The Jackets have two teams listed in the top 60 of the ITA rankings who are in the doubles draw this weekend – Spir and King at No. 43, and Potvin and Smith at No. 60. Spir and King became the Jackets’ top doubles team last spring, posting a 10-6 record at No. 1, and are seeded No. 1 this weekend. Potvin and Smith, who compiled an 8-2 mark at No. 2, are seeded fifth.
Gomez and O’Brien also will compete as a doubles team, as will Ortiga and Miljevic.
One of the advantages Thorne has in working with this year’s team is that the Jackets lost no one from last year’s team. The team’s roster is exactly the same, including five seniors out of nine players.
“It’s good and bad, because we’ll have to replace a lot of guys after this year,” Thorne said. “But we’re out here playing doubles, and everyone knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We’re working more on tactical stuff rather than seeing who mixes and matches well, so that’s a huge advantage through the fall and into the spring.”
Following this weekend’s competition, Tech will host its annual Fall Invitational the weekend of Oct. 2-4 at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.