Men's Tennis Qualifies Six for ITA Pre-Qualifiers
Sept. 8, 2003
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - - When the list of participants for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) All-American Tournament was released, Monday, six Memphis men's tennis players found that their road to the prestigious fall tournament will begin in the pre-qualifier, scheduled for Oct. 3-6, 2003. Lee Taylor Walker, Marten Tamla, Alex Bucewicz, Mark Finnegan, James Spence and Alex Jago will represent Memphis in both the singles and doubles draw of the tournament.
Walker, Bucewicz and Jago are the only three of that group who played for Memphis last year. Mark Finnegan is a transfer from Georgia Southern and Tamla is a transfer from UT Martin. James Spence is in his first year as a Tiger, hailing from New Zealand.
With the graduation of seniors Joe Schmulian and Ben Stapp, the Tigers lost two of their top three singles players and one half of both their No. 1 and No. 2 doubles duos. Memphis also lost freshman Brendan Malarkey, who played No. 5 singles and played on the No. 6 doubles team with Jago.
The three new doubles pairings will be something Memphis will sort out during the fall schedule, starting Friday at Middle Tennessee in the Blue Raider Invitational. For now, the doubles pairings for the ITA All-American Pre-Qualifier are Walker and Spence, Tamla and Bucewicz and Jago and Finnegan.
Last year, the No. 1 duo of Stapp and Walker advanced to the doubles finals before their scheduled opponents from Mississippi withdrew from the tournament due to travel plans. The Tiger pair went on to rank as high as No. 12 in the country at one point during the fall schedule, after advancing to the Omni Hotels Region III Doubles Finals.
Memphis may have to leave the state of Tennessee to participate in just one fall tournament, with a slew of high-profile tournaments being hosted in Tennessee this fall. The ITA All-American and its qualifying and pre-qualifying tournaments are being held in Chattanooga, Tenn., while the ITA Southeast Regional will be hosted by the Tigers at the Racquet Club of Memphis. Should Memphis qualify individuals for the Southern Collegiate Championships, that is the only possible out-of-state fall tournament, taking place in Athens, Ga.
The Tigers fall schedule is below:
2002-03 was a banner year for the Tigers as Memphis received both national and conference awards for sportsmanship, stayed in the national rankings every week for the second straight year, watched one senior graduate in three years, won a second team academic award from the ITA, won three individual academic awards from the ITA and posted a 16-7 record and a fifth-place finish in the conference.