Men's Tennis Draws No. 6 Seed and Host Tulsa in First Round
April 19, 2006
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis men's tennis team (6-13) is the No. 6 seed heading into the Conference USA Men's Tennis Championship, which begins Friday at the University of Tulsa (14-10). The Tigers will face No.42 Tulsa at 2 p.m. in the first round of the tournament, with the winner advancing to face the winner of the SMU/East Carolina match, Saturday at 2 p.m. Unlike past Conference USA tournaments, there will be no consolation bracket to play out to determine third, fifth and seventh place, so it will be imperative that the Tigers get off to a strong start.
"We played so well at Middle Tennessee," Head Coach Paul Goebel said. "The match score did not show how close that match really was. At one point, it looked like we were going to win the match before we had a few mental mistakes that cost us."
Memphis heads in to Friday's action having already faced the Golden Hurricanes once this season. That match was also played at Tulsa's on-campus facility, where the then-No. 50 Golden Hurricane downed then-No. 75 Memphis, 6-1. But both teams now play a significantly-different line-up than they used in that meeting. Sam Withell and James Spence have now moved atop the Tigers' singles line-up after playing No. 4 and 3 singles, respectively, in the first meeting, and Matt Brewer, who scored Memphis' lone point with a win over then No. 73 Diego Camacho and No. 2, has played a majority of his matches at No. 3 or 4 in the last few weeks, trying to give the Tigers' some points from the middle of their singles line-up. Getting points early from the lower part of the line-up is especially important at the C-USA tournament, where the lower ranked singles players will be put on the courts first if there is a crunch for space.
Tulsa still has Arnau Brugues at the top of the singles ladder, but Diego Camacho, who played No. 2 in the first meeting, last played at the No. 5 spot against Oklahoma. The new No. 2 is Federico Soriano, the No. 57 ranked singles player in the country. Soriano played at the No. 4 slot in the first meeting with Memphis against Sam Withell, coming back from a 6-3 first set loss to win 6-3, 6-2 to pick up the win. The third nationally-ranked singles player for Tulsa is No. 118 Ricardo Soriano, who did not face Memphis in the first meeting. The sophomore played at the No. 3 spot in Tulsa's last match, a slot occupied by Aleksander Charpanti in the first meeting with the Tigers. Charpanti did not play singles against Oklahoma or SMU, but played at No. 3 singles in a 4-3 loss to No. 44 Auburn on Apr. 12th, demonstrating that the Golden Hurricane depth will be something the Tigers have to prepare for.
Memphis will be facing their 10th nationally-ranked opponent this year. Three of the Tigers' last five opponents were nationally-ranked to wrap up the regular season, and Memphis will look to again jump on the doubles point competition to get the momentum rolling. The Tigers battled No. 32 Middle Tennessee to three 9-8 losses in the last regular season match, and the duo of Sam Withell and James Spence likely need the team to advance deep in the league tournament to improve their chances for an NCAA at-large bid. Under the new selection criteria for the NCAA At-Large, the NCAA will take one doubles team from each conference that has at least two nationally-ranked doubles teams. Conference USA sports two ranked teams, No. 20 Robert Searle and Konstantin Haerle of Rice, and No. 41 Spence and Withell of Memphis. With Rice the top seed and in the other half of the bracket, the Tigers would need to advance to the conference finals to give Spence and Withell a shot at upending Searle and Haerle and strengthening their chance for one of the at-large berths.
The Conference USA Championships will be just a three-day event and will be held at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center on the TU campus. The winner of the tournament receives the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Tickets are $5.00 for single day tickets for adults and $3 for youth 16 and under. An all-session pass is available for $12.00.