Men's Tennis Back in NCAA Action Friday at Noon Against BYU
May 8, 2013
MEMPHIS - - The University of Memphis men's tennis team (14-7) will make its second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, Friday, when the Tigers face BYU at noon in first round action at Ole Miss' Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
The NCAA appearance is the second in as many years for Memphis, who were the No. 3 seeds in the Mississippi State regional last year. This year, the Tigers are the No. 2 seed in the Ole Miss regional, and are facing a BYU team that was 21-6 this season, finishing 7-1 in the West Coast Conference. The Cougars advanced to the finals of the WCC Championships, losing to Pepperdine. Memphis won its first C-USA title in school history, 4-2, over Tulsa. This will be the first-ever meeting between Memphis and BYU.
Having gone through the first year jitters last season, the Tigers have experience on their side this time, knowing how to handle the three-week gap between the end of the conference tournament and the NCAA first round match.
"We are one of the few sports with a big gap between our conference championships and the NCAA tournament, we have had three weeks off," head coach Paul Goebel said. "It's been nice to have a couple of days to reflect on winning the conference championship. But thankfully it hasn't been hard to keep our team motivated to practice. Our guys are excited and want to see how well they can do in this tournament. This gap has given us a lot of opportunities for some individual work and we've focused on conditioning."
Memphis is carrying a seven-match winning streak into the NCAA tournament, a streak that started with a 4-0 win over No. 50 Louisville and has included two wins over top 25 teams (No. 24 VCU and No. 23 Tulsa). Coincidentally, Memphis has won the doubles point in seven straight matches, getting them out to early leads in matches.
"We've been playing very good doubles lately so we're really encouraged," Goebel said. "We've won seven or eight doubles points in a row. BYU is incredibly well-coached by one of the best coaches in the country in Brad Pearce and seems to have really good depth and three evenly-matched doubles teams. We are really going to have to be ready to go in doubles, that'll set the tone for the whole match."
After the doubles point is contended, the Tigers will break into their six singles matches. Conference USA Player of the Year Connor Glennon comes into the tournament match with a 10-6 mark at No. 1 singles and a team-leading 23 wins on the season. Second team all-conference honoree Joe Salisbury is just behind Glennon with 22 wins on the season, including a 5-7 mark at No. 2, while freshman Lukas Vrnak made a big splash in his first collegiate semester with a mark of 10-6 at No. 3 singles.
Second-team all-conference honoree Johnny Grimal anchors the four spot for the Tigers with a 7-6 mark and a 16-12 mark on the season. Grimal had the match-clinching wins in the C-USA semifinals and finals and was named the C-USA Singles Player of the Championship.
David O'Leary and David O'Hare hold down the final two spots in the singles lineup. O'Leary is 7-4 at No. 5 singles and has won six of his last 10 matches at No. 5. O'Hare brings a 6-2 mark at No. 6 with him into Friday afternoon's match-up and has won three of his last five matches, with two unfinished contests.
That depth of the Tigers' lineup has been well-tested this season, facing 15 teams that were part of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings, including seven matches against teams in the top 25.
"What's made our team so good this year is our depth," Goebel said. "There isn't much difference between our one and six player and I think that showed with all the post-season awards. We've been working very hard and we've played a very, very difficult schedule to get ready for this."
Tickets for the NCAA First and Second Round matches at Ole Miss are now available. Tickets are $7 a day or $10 for the weekend for adults and are $3 a day or $5 for the weekend for students (college students and younger). Parking will be $1.00 on Friday. Parking visitor's passes will go on sale at 11 a.m., Friday, at the tennis center.
Live scoring during both Friday matches will be available here. Following the Memphis/BYU match, host Ole Miss will face Lehigh at 3 p.m.