Jan. 15, 2011
ATLANTA – Boasting three players ranked No. 93 or higher and the nation’s 8th-ranked doubles duo, Georgia Tech’s 23rd-ranked men’s tennis team swings into action at 10 a.m. Sunday, hosting No. 60 USC-Upstate at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.
Head coach Kenny Thorne’s team, which reached the round of 32 in last year’s NCAA Championship and posted an 18-8 record last spring, returns everyone from a squad that finished the spring ranked No. 24. Among his players are five seniors, two juniors and a pair of sophomores.
“We’ve got the same group of guys back, but it’s a different team,” said head coach Kenny Thorne. “Some guys mature more than others. We’ve got five seniors, and some of them will go get jobs after this, and some of them will play pro tennis. They know what to expect, and there won’t be as many surprises. We’re focusing on trying to be the best team we can be.”
Georgia Tech’s doubles team of Kevin King and Juan Spir enters the spring ranked No. 8 in doubles, and three Yellow Jackets are among the top 100 in singles. All-American Guillermo Gomez is No. 12 in singles, while Spir and Dusan Miljevic debuted in the national rankings at No. 48 and 93, respectively.
King, a junior from Peachtree City, Ga., and Spir, a sophomore from Medellin, Colombia, have enjoyed a meteoric rise in the rankings following a strong finish to the spring season last year and a successful fall campaign in which they won the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional and reached the semifinals of the ITA National Indoor Championships. The duo posted a 10-6 dual-match record last spring, and a 15-4 mark in the fall season.
Gomez, a two-time All-American and three-time All-ACC choice who rose as high as No. 4 last spring, went 11-4 in the fall after reaching the round of 16 in last year’s NCAA Championship. He won the singles title at the Southern Intercollegiate Championship, reached the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional and the round of 16 at the D’Novo/ITA All-American Championships.
Gomez enters the spring with 96 singles wins, the third-most all-time at Tech, and needs 16 this spring to catch his coach, who compiled 112 during his career from 1985-88. Bryan Shelton, the Yellow Jackets’ women’s head coach, holds the No. 2 spot with 101 singles wins during the same time period.
Spir also enjoyed a strong fall campaign in singles, winning 11 of 15 matches while reaching the quarterfinals of the Southern Intercollegiate Championship and the round of 16 at the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional. He also qualified for the D’Novo/ITA All-American Championship by winning six consecutive matches in the pre-qualifying and qualifying stages of that event.
Miljevic, a junior from Novi Sad, Serbia, was 13-5 in the fall and advanced to the semifinals of the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional. He also enjoyed a strong run in the Southern Intercollegiate Championship (quarterfinals) and advanced through the pre-qualifying rounds of the D’Novo/ITA All-American Championship.
The rest of Tech’s singles lineup from last spring are back, including seniors Eliot Potvin (16-9 at No. 3), Miguel Muguruza (11-9 playing mostly at No. 4) and Dean O’Brien (7-8), sophomore Magin Ortiga (14-8 mostly at No. 5). Gomez was 14-5 at No. 1, King 12-6 at No. 2, and Spir was 12-8 at No. 6. Potvin and Ryan Smith, another senior, were ranked 43rd in doubles at the end of last spring.
“The depth of our team allows us to move guys around to different spots,” said Thorne. “That’s good flexibility to have. I don’t know if it’ll look that much different, maybe some small changes here and there. But the success of the team will depend on all nine guys.”