No. 26 Men's Tennis Preps for Final Regular Season Home Weekend
April 9, 2014
MEMPHIS - -
The No. 26 University of Memphis men's tennis team (11-4) will host two American Athletic Conference opponents in its regular season finale this weekend. The Tigers will begin the weekend against No. 60 UCF, Friday, at 2 p.m. at The Racquet Club of Memphis. That match will be followed by a clash with No. 25 ranked USF, Sunday, at noon, also at The Racquet Club of Memphis. USF will be the first top 25 opponent to visit Memphis for a men's tennis match since Paul Goebel took over the program in 2004-05.
"Both teams are very well-coached and have very good traditions with their men's tennis teams," Goebel said. "We're excited to play at home, it's been awhile since we've played at home, but it's going to be two tough teams where we are going to have to play well."
UCF is 12-6 on the season coming in to the visit to Memphis. The Knights are coming off a 4-3 win over Troy and the young UCF lineup, which features just one senior, will get a match in on the same courts that will host the American Athletic Conference championships, beginning April 18th.
Senior Matthew Gladstone leads the UCF lineup at No. 1 singles, where he is 5-7 on the season. Redshirt junior Francesc Aulina leads the Knights with 13 singles victories on the year, against just four losses, including an 8-1 mark at No. 3. Freshman teammate Inaki Espindola also has eight spring singles wins, sporting an 8-3 mark at No. 5 for UCF. Espindola has 12 wins for the year and has teamed with another freshman, Chris Barrus, to lead UCF with 10 doubles victories, including a 9-4 mark at No. 3. Gladstone teams with Aulina for a 9-2 mark at No. 2 doubles.
The Tigers will counter with a senior-heavy lineup. Senior Joe Salisbury, the defending American Athletic Conference player of the week and ranked No. 121 in the latest ITA poll, leads the Tigers with 21 singles victories on the year, including a 10-3 mark at No. 2. Senior teammate Johnny Grimal is just behind Salisbury's mark at 18-10, including a 4-4 mark at No. 4. Senior David O'Leary is also in double digit singles victories, with a mark of 14-11, including a 4-3 mark at No. 3.
Outside of the senior class, junior Connor Glennon is another Tiger already in double digit victories and continues to lead the singles lineup from the No. 1 spot. Glennon is 14-6 on the year and is 8-3 at No. 1 so far this season. Ranked No. 55 in the updated polls released Tuesday, he has faced eight ranked singles players this season, and is coming off a three-set win over No. 60 ranked Alexis Heugas from VCU. On the year, he is 4-3 against ranked opponents with one unfinished match against a ranked foe.
In college tennis, the dual match starts with doubles play, and the Tigers have used that for strong starts to their matches, winning the doubles point in 12 of their 15 matches (Memphis is 10-2 when winning the doubles point).
All three of the Tigers' primary doubles tandems have double digit victories this season, led by the No. 8 ranked team of David O'Hare and Salisbury. O'Hare and Salisbury are 8-2 at No. 1 doubles on the year and have won seven straight matches atop the doubles lineup. The duo is 20-7 on the season and Salisbury is just five career doubles victories shy of the 100-win mark.
The tandem of Glennon and senior Cedric De Zutter are 8-5 at No. 2 on the year and are 6-4 in their last 10 outings.
The third doubles tandem is a new one, as senior Ian Chadwell just joined the Memphis roster in January of this year after playing two years at Alabama, then leaving college tennis after suffering a foot injury. After a year away from the game, Chadwell has rejoined the college game and has teamed with Grimal for a 14-1 mark in doubles play, including an 11-1 record at No. 3.
The Tigers' second opponent of the weekend will be No. 25 USF, a team that just knocked off No. 39 Tulsa, 6-1, to improve to 14-5 on the season. USF jumped from in the mid-40s in the national rankings to No. 29 in the country back in mid-March with a 4-2 win over Pepperdine, the team that eliminated Memphis from the NCAA Round of 16 last year, 4-1. Since then, the Bulls have gone 4-1, with the one loss being a 4-0 decision at Baylor, a team that also shut out the Tigers. The Bulls bounced back from that loss with the road win at Tulsa. USF will play at Middle Tennessee before venturing west to face the Tigers on Sunday.