Men's Tennis Opens Season at No. 54 Tennessee
Jan. 22, 2004
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis men's tennis team, ranked No. 69 in the country in the season-opening poll, will open the season at No. 54 Tennessee at 10 a.m., Saturday, and will round out the day with a 3 p.m. match-up against UT Martin. Memphis will then stop on the way back to Memphis on Sunday and face Tennessee Tech at 1 p.m. to round out the first weekend of their 2004 schedule.
The Tigers have had a number of personnel changes since last spring's dual season, which saw Memphis finish with a 16-9 record and a fifth-place finish in the C-USA Championships.
Senior Lee Taylor Walker (Jackson, Tenn./University School of Jackson), junior Alex Bucewicz (Melbourne, Australia/Salesian) and sophomore Alex Jago (Launceston, Australia/Launceston) are the only regular singles returnees for the 2004 season. Walker, who alternated between No. 1 and No. 2 singles last year, starts the spring season as the No. 48 ranked singles player in the country. He will likely play No. 1 in the Tigers' first match and will team with freshman James Spence (Christchurch, New Zealand/Christchurch Boy's High School) to play No. 1 doubles.
Spence will probably be penciled into the No. 2 singles spot for the weekend. The freshman went 5-5 in his first collegiate semester in singles and was 5-3 in doubles with Walker.
Bucewicz, who has had a 21-win and a 19-win spring season in his first two years, should move up one spot into the No. 3 slot for the weekend, and will team with Marten Tamla (Tallinn, Estonia/UT Martin) to play No. 3 doubles for the all-important doubles point to start the match.
Tamla, a transfer from UT Martin over the summer, is battling a nagging injury, but is expected to play, probably at the No. 4 singles spot. Tamla may face his old teammates Saturday afternoon, depending on how the line-up does against nationally-ranked Tennessee in the morning match.
Newcomer Sam Witatll (Sydney, Australia), who just got into Memphis over the weekend from his native Australia, could play the No. 5 singles slot.
Jago will round out the season-opening line-up, playing back at No. 6 singles, where he was 12-11 last season.
The Tigers' doubles teams, long a strength of Phil Chamberlain-coached programs, will be led by the duo of Walker and Spence at No. 1, with Jago and Witatll at No. 2. Tamla and Bucewicz will round out the doubles line-up at No. 3.
Junior Mark Finnegan (Kill County Kildare, Ireland/Georgia Southern) and freshman Luke Campbell (Brisbane, Australia/Villanova College) will also make the trip and Campbell will likely play against either UT Martin or Tennessee Tech over the weekend while Chamberlain works on figuring out his 2004 line-up. Finnegan has still not been cleared from his shoulder injury over the fall for this weekend's matches. The Tigers carry 10 players on their roster, their largest roster since Chamberlain took over the program six years ago, with just four of them being returnees from last season. Junior Andrew Olswing (Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway) and junior Trey Brower (Memphis, Tenn.), both walk-ons from the Memphis area, will round out the 2004 roster.
Memphis will have a 12-day break following the opening weekend of three matches over two days. The Tigers will open their home schedule, Feb. 6th, against Illinois State in a 2 p.m. match.
Chamberlain is 14 wins shy of his 100th career victory in just his sixth season at the helm of his alma mater. Chamberlain already ranks second on the Tiger career victory chart, behind his former coach Tommy Buford, who finished his 31-year coaching career with a 441-260-3 mark. Buford is now the tournament director for the Fed-Ex/St. Jude Tennis Classic, which features both the men's and women's professional tennis tours playing at The Racquet Club of Memphis each February.
Memphis, already the host of the ITA Southeast Regional back in October, will also be the host destination for the Conference USA Championships, Apr. 14-18th. The winner of that tournament receives the league's at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.