Men's Tennis Hosts Pro-Am, Saturday
April 24, 2003
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis men's tennis team, currently ranked No. 70 in the country, will host its annual fundraiser, Saturday, on The University of Memphis courts at the corners of Echles and Spottswood.
The Pro-Am will offer donors an opportunity play against the current Tigers, who just finished fifth at the C-USA Championship tournament in Milwaukee, or against participating Tiger alum. Donors who are not able to play a match are welcome to substitute a relative or other player.
"We'll play some matches from 9 a.m. to noon," Head Coach Phil Chamberlain said. "For supporters who cannot play a match themselves, we'll let them find a substitute if they wish or they can just come for the social aspect of the outing."
Memphis capped another highly-successful season under Chamberlain's guidance. The year began with the men's team from 2002 being honored by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) as an All-Academic team for having a team GPA of 3.2 or greater. Graduated senior Michael LaHaie was also honored by the ITA as an ITA Scholar Athlete.
The No. 1 doubles team of Ben Stapp and Lee Taylor Walker then embarked on a fall schedule that found them competing in prestigious collegiate tournaments such as the ITA All-American and advancing to the finals of the Omni Hotels Region III Championships. At the Region III Championships, which will be hosted by Memphis on Oct. 16-19, 2003, the No. 1 duo downed three SEC opponents before falling to the No. 1 team from Alabama in the finals. The Tigers' appearance in the finals meant that the Tigers were alternates to the ITA National Indoor Championships, the first time in that tournament's history that the Tigers had possible qualifiers.
Chamberlain's work in rebuilding his alma mater has included consistently difficult schedules. The 2003 schedule featured as many as 10 nationally-ranked opponents, with Memphis earning wins over No. 47 William & Mary and No. 61 Middle Tennessee. During one stretch early in the season, the Tigers faced three straight nationally-ranked opponents on the road, dropping 4-3 decisions at Mississippi State and Indiana State, and falling 5-2 at Indiana. The Tigers then went 2-1 against Conference USA opponents during the regular season, falling at No. 21 South Florida at the C-USA Inner Conference tournament in March.
Tiger players were recognized four times by the league office, with senior Ben Stapp earning league player of the week honors two times. He was joined on that list by sophomore Alex Bucewicz and fellow senior Joe Schmulian before the league tournament.
Bucewicz capped one of the most successful seasons ever by a Tiger player with a 21-3 record during the spring season. The sophomore from Melbourne, Australia, finished the season on a 12-match winning streak, surpassing an eight-match streak from earlier in the season. Posting a mark of 20-1 at No. 4 singles, Bucewicz also teamed with Schmulian to post a 14-8 mark at No. 2 doubles.
Looking ahead to 2003-2004, the Tigers will need to replace Stapp and Schmulian, two of the team's top three singles players. Junior Lee Taylor Walker will be the team's only player returning who played No. 1 or No. 2 singles. Also returning will be sophomore Andrew Olswing, a Memphis-area product who secured the Tigers' final regular season win over Western Kentucky at No. 6 singles. A pair of freshmen who had solid starts to their collegiate careers should also figure into the mix in 2003. Freshman Brendan Malarkey completed his first semester of college tennis with a 15-8 record, including a 14-6 mark at No. 5 singles. Alex Jago, another Aussie freshman, completed his first collegiate semester with a 13-11 singles record, including a 12-8 record at No. 6. The duo teamed together to post a 13-11 mark at No. 3 doubles.
The Tigers know they will host one major event on the 2003 schedule, when they host the Region III (Southeast Region) Championships. The Southeast Region of men's tennis features programs from the states of Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida. In the current poll, 6 of the top 15 schools in the country will also come out of the Southeast Regional, which will be hosted at The Racquet Club of Memphis by the Tigers. The Tigers will also await the official word to see if they will also host the Conference USA men's tennis championships in the spring. The hosts of the 2003-04 championships will be announced at the C-USA league meetings, June 3-4.
ITA National Rankings Region (Southeast Regional will be hosted by Memphis in 03) No. 1 University of Illinois Mid West No. 2 University of Florida Southeast No. 3 Stanford University West No. 4 UCLA West No. 5 Baylor University South Central No. 6 Vanderbilt University Southeast No. 7 California West No. 8 University of Mississippi Southeast No. 9 Duke University Mideast No. 10 University of Washington West No. 11 Texas A&M South Central No. 12 University of Kentucky Southeast No. 13 Texas-Austin South Central No. 14 University of Alabama Southeast No. 15 Tulane University Southeast