Jan. 28, 2012
ATLANTA – For the first time in its history, Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team will play host to one of the 15 sites of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, competing against three other top-20 teams in Illinois, North Carolina and Auburn in a two-day event Sunday and Monday at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.
The 19th-ranked Yellow Jackets (1-1) face No. 20 Auburn (1-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday, following a 10 a.m. match between the No. 15 Illini and No. 18 Tar Heels. The winners will meet at 1 p.m. Monday for the right to advance to the ITA National Indoor Team Championships, Feb. 17-20 in Charlottesville, Va. The Sunday losers will meet in a consolation match at 10 a.m. Monday.
Head coach Kenny Thorne’s team boasts the nation’s No. 2-ranked doubles team in senior Kevin King and junior Juan Spir, and King is ranked 9th in the nation in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles rankings. The Yellow Jackets have started off the season with a 7-0 victory last Friday over Old Dominion, and a 5-2 loss on the road at No. 13 Tennessee.
King, a senior from Peachtree City, Ga., won both of his singles matches at the No. 1 position last weekend, defeating his ODU opponent without losing a game and then knocking off the nation’s 125th-ranked player from Tennessee, Mikelis, Libietis, in three sets. The All-American is 16-3 this year in singles.
Junior Juan Melian, the 2011 Southern Conference Player of the Year before transferring from Georgia Southern, began his dual season by splitting two matches at No. 2, while Spir, a junior from Medellin, Colombia, also split his matches at No. 3.
Senior Dusan Miljevic of Novi Sad, Serbia opened the season by going 1-1 at No. 4, and freshman Vikram Hundal of Alpharetta, Ga., did the same at No. 5. Another freshman, Eduardo Segura of Madrid, Spain, won both his matches at No. 6.
King and Spir won both their doubles matches over the weekend at No. 1. Thorne paired Hundal with Melian at No. 2, and Miljevic and Segura at No. 3, and both teams went 1-1.
Tech’s 13th-ranked women’s team also is hosting an ITA Kick-off Weekend event Friday and Saturday, in which involves Georgia State, South Carolina and William & Mary. Match times for the women’s event are 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Admission is free to all matches. Parking is available along Fowler and 8th Streets, as well as the McCamish Pavilion lot.
ITA ATLANTA PREVIEW
On paper, the most competitive ITA Kick-Off Weekend event appears to be in Atlanta, where four teams that finished 2010-11 in the Top 20 of the Campbell/ITA team rankings are set to do battle. Second-ranked Dennis Nevolo of Illinois leads the pack of talented players going to Georgia, having reached the USTA/ITA National Indoors final before falling to top-ranked Mitchell Frank of Virginia.
Perhaps the most improved player thus far this season is Georgia Tech’s Kevin King. The senior is up to No. 9 in singles and No. 2 in doubles in the Campbell/ITA national rankings after winning the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional singles title and making the doubles final of the ITA All-American Championships (with Juan Spir).
As King conquered the Southeast, Auburn’s Andreas Mies picked up the singles title at the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championships. North Carolina’s Jose Hernandez missed the Carolina Regional event because he was representing his native Dominican Republic in the 2011 Pan-American Games. Tech has a 27-14 lead over Auburn in the all-time series, having won the last two meetings, including a 4-3 decision last spring at Auburn and a 4-3 win at Tech in 2010. The Tigers have defeated Troy and Middle Tennessee by 7-0 scores.
Illinois is off to a 3-0 start with wins over Detroit Mercy, Ball State and Notre Dame last weekend in Champaign. The Tar Heels are 1-1 after a 5-2 loss to Stanford and a 5-2 win over Tulsa last weekend in Tulsa. The Jackets are 12-26 all-time vs. North Carolina, including a 4-3 win in Atlanta last spring, and are 2-1 all-time against the Illini, last meeting in 2004.
UP NEXT FOR TECH
Tech hosts South Carolina at 1 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.