No. 33 Men's Tennis Hosting No. 52 Michigan State Friday Night
Jan. 17, 2013
MEMPHIS - - The University of Memphis men's tennis team is just eight spots outside the top 25 in the country and will have an opportunity to start working on improving their team ranking when No. 52 Michigan State comes to town for a 7 p.m. match at The Racquet Club of Memphis, Friday. That match will be the spring dual season opener for both teams.
The Tigers return six letterwinners from last year's team that made the first team appearance in the NCAA tournament in school history. With four juniors and two sophomores, the Tigers' lineup has depth to face a schedule that includes 13 ranked opponents.
Memphis returns three first team All-C-USA singles players, including Connor Glennon, Johnny Grimal and David O'Leary. Memphis also returns three of the four players who were All-C-USA first team in doubles last season. The team of David O'Hare and Joe Salisbury are both back this season, while Glennon was also a doubles honoree. The doubles tandems will be switched up though, as Glennon's all-conference partner from last season, David Henry, graduated.
Paul Goebel, the C-USA coach of the year last season, will have to juggle his lineup to find his new tandems. Salisbury and O'Leary teamed together over the summer in their native England and had success on the ITF circuit, earning some playing time together this fall. The duo combined to pick up a win over Alabama in the Tigers' prep tournament last weekend, but Goebel mixed the lineups up in the doubles matches against East Tennessee, and Salisbury and Cedric de Zutter were paired together in a loss in the tiebreak, while O'Leary played just singles against ETSU. Goebel was able to move O'Leary to just the singles side with the addition of two Tigers to the lineup in January.
The Tigers gained two new faces when classes started on Thursday. Memphian Jarryd Woog, a five-star signee, started classes on Thursday. Woog is the highest ranked Tigers recruit to date and has been inside the top 20 in the south region rankings during his junior career. He also has Tennessee State Championships in his junior background, and could figure into the lineup this spring.
Joining Woog on the Tigers' roster is Lukas Vrnak, from the Czech Republic. Vrnak has ranked as high as No. 19 in the world in juniors and has played in the juniors draws of all four Grand Slam events. His best Grand Slam finish was a Round of 16 appearance at the French Open juniors tournament. He has eight ITF Juniors doubles and singles crowns to date and most recently won both the doubles and singles event at the 36th City of Florence International Tournament in the group 2 event. On the ATP tour, he has ranked as high as No. 1046 in doubles and No. 1399 in singles.
"To have two players of this talent level join the program in January is extremely exciting," Associate Head Coach Mark Finnegan said. "Jarryd is one of the highest ranked American recruits we have ever had and Lukas is the most decorated player to come to the program. Jarryd is a crafty lefty who has all the talent in the world. As soon as he gets hitting on a daily basis with high level tennis, we have no doubt his game will improve immensely. He has many weapons already that he can hurt you with and as soon as he understands how to use these, his results will follow. Lukas will have a lot of success in college tennis. He is a gutsy grinder who has an all-court game. His style of tennis is perfect for college tennis and having had such great success in the world junior tournaments, we have high expectations for him."
The addition of the two freshmen to a lineup that already features four regionally-ranked and two nationally-ranked singles players, should give the line-up some depth against a tough schedule that features a match-up at No. 8 Oklahoma in just the second match of the season. That difficult road match will make getting a strong start important to the Tigers, as the Friday night match with Michigan State is one of just five home dates for the team. Of the 13 ranked opponents on the Memphis schedule to start the season, just three will be played on the Tigers' home courts at The Racquet Club of Memphis. Admission to all Memphis tennis matches is free.