Men's Tennis To Open 2005-06 Season This Weekend
Sept. 12, 2005
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis men's tennis team will open its 2005-06 schedule at the Middle Tennessee Fall Invitational this weekend. It will mark the career debut for three new Tigers, junior Michael Jetter (Neuenbuerg, Germany), and freshmen Oskar Saarne (Tallinn, Estonia) and Matt Brewer (Memphis, Tenn.).
"Practice has been going great," Tiger head coach Paul Goebel said. "All the guys have been working extremely hard. It's been fun for the guys to get to know each other. We lost five guys from last year's team, so you're not sure what to expect, but we're just working hard on building team chemistry and team spirit. We're conditioning five times a week and just working really hard."
Leading the Tigers back into play this season will be seniors James Spence and Alex Jago. Spence capped his junior season with a 13-9 singles mark, including an 8-6 record at No. 2 singles. He also teamed with now-graduated Scott Felsenthal for an 11-9 mark at No. 1 doubles, spending time in the national doubles rankings. But like all the remaining Tigers, Spence will have a new doubles partner for this season, a question that may not be answered until the end of the fall season according to Goebel.
"We are expecting some good results in our fall tournaments, but we're still not sure of the doubles teams yet," Goebel said. "We will be experimenting with different teams in the tournaments, so we may not get to our doubles potential until late in the fall or early in the spring, but we definitely have some good talent in doubles, we just need to work on it."
After a solid summer season on the ITA circuit, fellow senior Alex Jago is also back and taking on a leadership role after going 13-6 in doubles last season when teamed with Mark Finnegan, now the assistant coach for the Lady Tiger tennis team.
"I'm really pleased with all of our returners," Goebel said. "Garrison (Pilant), Bryan (Bankester) and Alex all came back ready to show some leadership and obviously have practiced over the summer and have shown improvement. Our mentality is good right now. There's no complaining and they're all acting like they have a lot to prove."
This fall tournament kicks off a tough 2005-06 Tiger schedule.
"Our fall tournament opens at Middle Tennessee, which features two top 10 doubles teams in the country and a tough singles bracket with some ranked players. It's a good tournament to start with, where everyone will get some matches, and it's in our region. We follow it next weekend with a great tournament in Virginia, a top five ranked team nationally. The winner of that top division there will get a wild card into a professional tournament, so that will attract a lot of ranked players, and we'll get some great play from outside our region there. We will end the fall with the ITA regional again. Our region is one of the best in the country with so many ranked players. It will give our guys a great chance to play top competition at home."
The stiff competition in the fall is a foretaste of what is to come for the Tiger spring schedule, with 11 nationally-ranked opponents on the spring schedule.
"The new NCAA selection criteria consists of playing more ranked teams, beating more ranked teams and rewarding you for the higher-ranked wins you've gotten. So we came up with a schedule with 11 top 50 schools on it."
The complete Middle Tennessee Fall Invitational draw will be available at www.goblueraiders.com later this week. Complete Tiger results will be posted at www.gotigersgo.com as the tournament progresses. Memphis capped the 2004-05 season with a 12-11 regular season record and a No. 73 national team ranking.