Men's Tennis Opening Conference Tourney Play Saturday
April 17, 2014
MEMPHIS - -
The No. 21 ranked University of Memphis men's tennis team (13-4) opens play in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Men's Tennis Championships, Saturday, at 2 p.m. at The Racquet Club of Memphis against either UCF or SMU. UCF and SMU will square off Friday, at 3 p.m., at The Racquet Club of Memphis to determine which team advances to face the top-seeded Tigers.
Admission to the Tigers' match is free and play will begin with doubles play at 2 p.m., Saturday. After a 10-minute break following the doubles point, the two teams will play six singles matches until a team score of four points has been reached (the winner of two of three doubles matches receives one team point). The tournament is single-elimination, with the team winning the conference's first-ever men's tennis championship receiving an automatic bid in to the NCAA field.
The tournament features four of the nation's top college men's tennis programs. Memphis is ranked No. 21 in the country in the latest ITA poll, while USF is ranked No. 26. Louisville is ranked No. 39 in the country and UCF ranks 62. Three of those four teams will play on Friday, beginning with USF's match against UConn at 9 a.m.
Memphis carries a four-match winning streak in to the tournament. Memphis has defeated a trio of conference opponents in that streak, including No. 3 seeded Louisville (4-2), No. 4 seeded UCF (7-0) and No. 2 seeded USF (4-3).
The Tigers carry a senior-laden roster in to this weekend's championship tournament. The senior tandem of David O'Hare and Joe Salisbury rank No. 8 in the country in doubles and are carrying a nine-match winning streak in to post season play. The duo has plenty of big match experience, winning all three matches in last year's conference tournament at number one, then winning three straight matches in the NCAA tournament. Earlier this year, the tandem upset the No. 1 ranked doubles team in the country to advance to the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championship match (a title they won), qualifying for the National Indoor Championships. The duo also squared off against the Bryan Brothers thanks to a wild card entry in to the draw at the U.S. National Indoor Championships earlier this spring. The tandem is 10-2 at No. 1 on the season in dual play, with both losses coming in tiebreaker situations back in February. The tandem upended the No. 32 ranked tandem of Roberto Cid and Sasha Gozun of USF on Sunday in another tiebreak to extend their winning streak to nine matches.
Memphis has also gotten solid doubles play from the senior tandem of Johnny Grimal and Ian Chadwell. After Chadwell joined the Tigers in January, he was paired with Grimal at No. 3 doubles and the duo has gone 15-1 since, including a 12-1 mark at No. 3 in dual matches. They suffered their lone loss in a road match at No. 7 Baylor four matches ago.
Grimal is also one of two Tigers with 20 or more singles victories already this season. Sporting a 5-1 mark at No. 3 singles, the senior is already the Memphis career leader in singles play with 85 victories and is 20-10 so far this year. Just behind Grimal on the career charts in a tie for second place with 77 wins is Joe Salisbury. Salisbury leads Memphis this year with a 23-10 overall record, and is 12-3 at No. 2 singles. The London native is already the Tigers' career doubles victories leader with 97 career doubles wins, including 40 at No. 1 in dual season play.
Atop the Tigers' singles lineup is junior Connor Glennon, who was named the Conference USA player of the year last year as a sophomore. Glennon comes in to this weekend's tournament as the No. 62 ranked player in the country, second only to USF's Roberto Cid (#43) among American Conference singles players. Glennon is 9-4 at No. 1 singles so far this year, and is 5-3 over his last eight matches. He has also teamed with senior Cedric De Zutter at No. 2 doubles, where the tandem is 9-6 on the year.
In last year's run to the program's first-ever C-USA championship, the Tigers got points from the depth of their lineup. Grimal went 2-0 in the conference championships at No. 4, then was 2-0 in the NCAA tournament. David O'Leary went 1-1 in the conference tournament, then went 1-0 at No. 5 in the NCAA tournament and David O'Hare went undefeated through both the conference tournament and the NCAA draw. Memphis will look to O'Leary and O'Hare to add points from their slots in the lineup again this year, also looking to Ian Chadwell for team points. Since rejoining the college game after a year away due to injury, Chadwell is sporting a 9-9 overall mark in singles play, including a 3-0 mark at No. 4 and a 5-7 mark at No. 5.
Live stats will be available from all matches in the tournament. To follow each day's play, go HERE. .