O'Hare and Salisbury Prepping for NCAA Doubles Draw
May 20, 2014
MEMPHIS - -
Back on Sept. 24, 2010, at 6:30 p.m., a pair of University of Memphis freshmen took to the court at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia. The freshmen, incorrectly listed as Joe Solisbury and David O'Harie on the draw sheet, didn't know it at the time, but they were beginning a college doubles run that would rewrite the University of Memphis tennis record book.
On Thursday, the duo, this time correctly listed as Joe Salisbury and David O'Hare, will again take to the courts at the Magill Tennis Complex. This time, their names are more well-known in the college tennis world, having ranked as high as number three in the country this season and entering the NCAA Doubles Championship ranked No. 13. Salisbury is already Memphis' career doubles wins leader, entering his final collegiate competition with 97 wins in doubles competition. O'Hare is right behind Salisbury with 91 doubles victories, a number of them coming with the duo teamed together in the blue and gray, where they are three-time all-conference honorees.
After going 3-0 at the Southern Intercollegiate Doubles tournament in Athens to that start of their college careers, the duo is hoping for another unblemished stay in Athens this week. Thursday, they will step on the court in the NCAA First Round and will face Penn State's Russell Bader and Leonard Stakhovsky to begin what they hope is a run to an NCAA championship.
The first round match up will feature a quartet of ITA regional winners. Joe Salisbury was named the ITA Ohio Valley Regional's Most Improved Senior and Memphis head coach Paul Goebel was named the region's coach of the year. Penn State's Russell Bader won the Most Improved Senior award for the Atlantic Regional, and Nittany Lion head coach Jeff Zinn was named that region's coach of the year. This is Bader's second appearance in the doubles draw at the NCAA's. He appeared in the 2012 draw with Jason Lee, but will be teamed with Stakhovsky this time, entering the competition ranked No. 26 in the country. He has 81 career doubles victories with the Nittany Lions.
But although this will be the first meeting between the Tigers and the Penn State team, the Memphis duo should be well-familiar with the level of competition in the field, having faced 11 of the 32 doubles teams in the draw earlier this season. They sport a 6-4 record against those 11 teams, not including leads in two matches in dual season play where they did not get to finish a match with the doubles point decided. One of those losses was in a tiebreak, and that loss (at Vanderbilt) was one of just two losses suffered this spring by the Tigers to a team in this year's NCAA tournament field (the Georgia team of Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland in the first match of the spring was the other).
Should the Tigers advance past the Penn State duo in the first round, they would face the winner of the No. 4 seeded Peter Kobelt/Kevin Metka (Ohio State) vs. Andrew Harris/Dane Webb (Oklahoma) winner in the Round of 16. The Tigers faced the No. 4 seeded team of Kobelt and Metka earlier this year, falling 8-5 to the Ohio State duo in the consolation semifinals at the ITA National Indoor Championships in New York to end their fall season.
The Oklahoma tandem will be in the midst of a long stay at the University of Georgia if the Tigers do advance to face them in the Round of 16. The Sooners advanced to the national championship match of the team draw, where they will face top-seeded USC in the national championship match at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Unlike the college dual season play, the doubles draw at the NCAA doubles championship is a best-of-three-sets series. That will be a good transition for the Tigers' doubles team, as they will wing across the Atlantic Ocean after their run at the NCAAs is complete to begin their professional tennis careers in Great Britain in June. O'Hare has played a competition with that scoring format already this year, suiting up for Ireland in Davis Cup play in their first round tie in Belarus, falling 6-7 (3), 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-6 (8), 6-2. Salisbury has also played the best of three set scoring on the Futures Tour last summer, where he earned both ATP doubles and singles points.