Jan. 5, 2012
ATLANTA – Bolstered by the return of the nation’s No. 2 doubles team and the ninth-ranked singles player, Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team has been ranked 15th nationally going into the spring dual-match season by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
The Yellow Jackets, 21-6 last year and looking to earn its third consecutive bid to the NCAA Championship, open the spring season Jan. 20 at home against Old Dominion. Tech’s 2011 schedule is extremely tough, with 11 of the 12 Atlantic Coast Conference teams, led by No. 2 Virginia and No. 10 Duke, ranked among the nation’s top 66 teams.
Tech will face at least three non-conference foes ranked 21st or higher. The Yellow Jackets host the ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Jan. 29-30, which includes No. 17 Illinois, No. 20 North Carolina and No. 21 Auburn, and visit No. 4 Georgia in Athens on Feb. 14.
Head coach Kenny Thorne, the 2011 ITA National Coach of the Year, has the nation’s No. 2 doubles team – senior Kevin King and junior Juan Spir – and the ninth-ranked singles player in King to anchor his lineup.
“The individual rankings are based on fall results, and Kevin King earned his top 10 national singles ranking this past fall,” said Thorne, beginning his 14th spring as the Yellow Jackets’ skipper. “I honestly feel he is the most dangerous player in college tennis right now. He has improved his big lefty serve as well as his transition game. He was successful against the best in the nation and has that confidence now. Kevin and Juan had another good fall in doubles and they deserve to be ranked No. 2 in the nation. They are experienced and have proven results.”
King, a senior from Peachtree City, Ga., went 14-3 in fall singles matches, capturing the championship of the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional in Athens while also reaching the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championship. The left-handed All-American has a 66-34 career singles record, 43-19 in spring dual matches, including a 23-8 mark last spring playing No. 3 behind All-American Guillermo Gomez and Spir.
He and Spir, a junior from Medellin, Colombia, went 5-2 together in the fall while also competing with other doubles partners. They advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITA All-American Championships and the round of 16 in the USTA/ITA National Indoors. Last spring, they set Tech records for doubles victories with a 34-11 mark playing together, 16-6 as Tech’s No. 1 pairing in dual matches.
Tech has one other returning veteran this spring in Dusan Miljevic, a senior from Novi Sad, Serbia, and has bolstered its lineup with the addition of junior Juan Melian Puigventos, the 2011 Southern Conference player of the year who transferred from Georgia Southern and went 6-3 in the fall for the Jackets.
Thorne welcomes four other newcomers in freshmen Eduardo Segura Mandarino of Madrid, Spain, Vikram Hundal of Alpharetta, Ga., Colin Edwards of Valrico, Fla., and Sebastian Lopez of Medellin, Colombia.
“Team rankings aren’t based on anything yet so I don’t put too much stock in that number,” said Thorne, whose Yellow Jackets made the NCAA round of 16. “We have had some people step up to fill some of the positions we lost last year and that is exactly what has to happen. We have some freshman that have worked very hard but were injured for part of the fall so they will need to successfully step into positions to help the team. We expect big things each year at Georgia Tech and we are excited to get things going.”