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    SEC Men's Tennis Fall Previews

    Alabama: The Crimson Tide men’s tennis team made a huge splash in the offseason by hiring George Husack, who was previously the associate head coach for the four-time defending national champion University of Southern California Trojans. Husack enters his first season as the Crimson Tide head coach, and he will look to bring his previous success from USC here to Tuscaloosa. The Tide also hired a new assistant coach as well in Ryler DeHeart. DeHeart, a two-time All-American at Illinois, also played for five years on the ATP tour. Alabama returns nine players from a season ago, but will have to replace one of its top competitors over the last couple seasons in Ricky Doverspike. The Tide’s current roster features a pair of seniors in Jarryd Botha and Harris Barnard, two juniors in Daniil Proskura and Carlos Taborga, four sophomores in Stuart Kenyon, Philippe Tsangarides, Rens van der Vis and David Vieyra, a redshirt freshman in Brian Conlon and true freshman Becker O’Shaughnessey. Alabama will kick off its fall slate on September 14, when it travels to Cary, N.C., for the Duke Fab Four Invite.

    Arkansas: The University of Arkansas men’s tennis team will be returning nine student-athletes and adding three to its 2012 fall squad. The Hogs who finished the 2012 season with a record of 14-13 will play in nine tournaments this fall.  Arkansas will kick off its 2012 fall season this weekend at the UNC-Wilmington Landfall Tournament in Wilmington, N.C. The month of September also includes trips to the Midland Invitational, The Louisville Fall Invitational and the Napa Challenge. The month of October takes the Razorbacks to Statesboro, Ga. for the Georgia Southern Tournament and also to the Utah Challenge, ITA Regionals and the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Northwestern University. Arkansas wraps up its fall campaign with the UNLV Larry Easley Invitational the first weekend in November. In his 24th year as the head coach of the Razorbacks, Robert Cox returns two seniors Gregoire Lehmann and Mike Ward, juniors Michael Nott an Manfred Jeske and a batch of talented young Razorbacks such as sophomores Jovan Parlic and Victor Hoang.

    Auburn: The Auburn Tigers head into the 2012 fall season with 6 returning letter-winners returning from the spring season, where the Tigers posted an overall record of 18-10 (5-6 SEC) and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Seniors Andreas Mies and juniors Lucas Lopasso, Daniel Cochrane and Dennis Lengsfeld will lead Auburn into the fall season, while another senior, Michael Wardell, and sophomore Lukas Ollert look to be key contributors this year. Mies, a native of Niederkassel, Germany, enters the fall season ranked 11th in the ITA preseason singles rankings, and he teams up with Cochrane to comprise the 24th-ranked doubles team in the country. Last year, Mies was named an ITA All-American by virtue of being a top-8 seed in doubles at the NCAA Championships along with departing senior Alex Stamchev. He was ranked as high as 18th in singles during the season and finished at No. 23. Mies finished the 2011-12 season with a 28-11 overall record in singles and 18-13 in doubles, and he enters the 2012-13 campaign with a 62-26 career singles record. Ollert, Cochrane and Lopasso were consistent for the Tigers at the bottom of the lineup in 2012 and will seek to make a bigger impact at the top this season. Auburn opens the fall at the Napa Valley Invitational Sept. 28-30, and the fall season is highlighted by the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championships, which Auburn will host for the season straight year Oct. 18-22.

    Florida: The Florida men’s tennis program is undergoing a makeover heading into the 2012-13 school year. New head coach Bryan Shelton takes over a team that returns four contributors from last year’s Gator squad. Four newcomers, three via redshirt and one true freshman, will also be in the mix for UF this season. Seniors Bob van Overbeek and Billy Federhofer and juniors Michael Alford and Florent Diep provide some experience, while Stephane Piro, Thomas Proisy and Gordon Watson hope to show what they can do after redshirting last year. True freshman Luke Johnson, a native of Leeds, England, will also get some valuable playing time this fall as he adjusts to the college game. The fall schedule kicks off with a trip to Athens, Ga., for the Southern Intercollegiate, and then Florida will host the Bedford Cup on Sept. 14-16. The Gators will participate in the ITA All-American and ITA Southeast Regional before closing the fall at the USTA Disney Clay Court Invitational in Orlando.

    Georgia: Manuel Diaz enters his 25th season as Georgia’s head coach looking to replace three key seniors from the 2012 team that finished with a No. 5 national ranking. The top Bulldog returner is All-America KU Singh, who landed at No. 10 in the ITA preseason rankings. Singh primarily played No. 2 for Georgia last season and was tied for second on the team with 22 dual match wins. Hernus Pieters, who registered 35 wins in 2011-12, and ITA Southeast Region Rookie of the Year Nathan Pasha also return for the Bulldogs. Georgia has added three freshmen to the team this fall including Marco Nunez, Austin Smith and Ben Wagland. The Bulldogs’ fall schedule includes eight tournaments, beginning with the Southern Intercollegiate Championships, America’s oldest fall college tennis tournament. Pieters was a Division I singles finalist at the Southern Intercollegiates, while Wagland and Pasha reached the doubles semifinals. Georgia’s fall slate also includes the Napa Valley Classic, All-American Championships, Futures of Mansfield, ITA Southeast Regional Championships and the ITA National Indoor Singles and Doubles Championship in New York. UGA will also play host to the Bulldog Invitational and the Bulldog Scramble.

    Kentucky: After one of the most successful calendar year’s in program history, the University of Kentucky men’s tennis team will look to carry its momentum into the 2012 fall season which began Sept. 7 in Athens, Ga., at the Southern Intercollegiate, and will culminate with the ITA National Indoor Championships in Flushing, N.Y. The Wildcats will be under the direction of first-year head coach Cedric Kauffmann, who takes over the reigns of the program from Dennis Emery, who held the post for 30 years, finishing it with a Southeastern Conference championship in 2012. UK will be lead by senior and team captain Anthony Rossi, who sits at No. 12 in the ITA preseason rankings. Assisting Rossi will be a wave of experience including junior Tom Jomby, who checks in at No. 45, Panav Jha who sits 64th, and junior Alejandro Gomez who is ranked No. 64. Freshman Maks Gold, Michael Binder, Thomas Pennington, Kai-Wen Lai and Juan Pablo Murra make up the 2012 incoming class for Kauffmann, one of the best-rated classes in the nation.  

    LSU: The LSU men’s tennis program enters year 16 under the helm of head coach Jeff Brown who has amassed a .626 winning percentage with an overall record of 238-142 with the Tigers. The team returns five letterwinners from a squad that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season and finished No. 25 in the final national rankings. Senior Olivier Borsos returns for his final campaign as the No. 18 singles player in the ITA preseason rankings, the highest preseason mark for a Tiger since former All-American Ken Skupski opened the 2006-07 season ranked No. 12. Sophomore Chris Simpson checked in at No. 58 in the singles rankings after a freshman season in which he finished 20-11 overall. True freshman Boris Arias earned the No. 10 spot in the newcomer/freshman rankings, and he and Simpson are ranked 24th in the doubles standings to start the season. The Tigers are an experienced group with four seniors - Borsos, Mark Bowtell, Stefan Szacinski and Roger Anderson.

    Ole Miss:  Ole Miss returns five of the top seven from last year’s NCAA Sweet Sixteen team, including All-Americans Jonas Lutjen and last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year, Nik Scholtz.  Also returning from last year’s lineup are Johan Backstrom, William Kallberg and Adrian Forberg Skogeng.  Joe Rogers, who did not play in any matches last season, and Oxford native Zach Wilder, who redshirted last year, return as well.  The Rebels have added Swedish standout Stefan Lindmark and India’s Vinod Gowda.  Gowda will have to sit out this year and will be eligible to compete for the Rebels beginning in the fall of 2013.   The Rebels are well-represented in the preseason ITA National Rankings.  Scholtz begins the year ranked No. 5 in the nation in singles and is the highest ranked player in the SEC.  He earned the highest preseason ranking by a Rebel in singles since three-time All-American Catalin Gard began the 2004-05 year No. 1.  Lutjen grabbed a No. 21 ranking in singles, his highest individual singles ranking of his career.   Kallberg picked up a preseason ranking of No. 56 in singles.  In doubles, Scholtz and Lutjen earned a No. 2 ranking.  Lutjen started off the fall with a bang, capturing the Southern Intercollegiate singles crown for his first singles title as a Rebel.

    Mississippiā€ˆState: Coming off a 2011-12 season that saw the Mississippi State Men’s Tennis squad win its second-consecutive SEC West title, the Bulldogs have even higher expectations for the 2012-13 campaign. Coach Per Nilsson will rely heavily on senior James Chaudry and junior Malte Stropp throughout the season to lead a Bulldog crew that saw many changes over the past offseason. All-Americans Artem Ilyushin and Louis Cant, along with George Coupland graduated, leading Nilsson to put together possibly the best recruiting class in his time at MSU. The ITA’s preseason 8th best newcomer Pedro Dumont, from Brasilia, Brazil, joins Romain Bogaert of Huppaye, Belgium, Jordan Angus of London, England and Stefan Vinti of Medias, Romania in Nilsson’s 2012 class. The Maroon and White are reloaded and looking to make an even bigger splash in the SEC and the NCAA during the 2012-13 season.

    South Carolina: South Carolina men’s tennis returns all but one player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, and head coach Josh Goffi is looking forward to seeing what his more experienced team can accomplish against high-quality competition this fall. Goffi is pleased with the work his team put in over the summer and anticipates seeing that proven in the results of the five tournaments the Gamecocks will play to prepare for another grueling SEC campaign ahead in the spring. South Carolina’s standout doubles team of junior Chip Cox and Nick Jones enter the fall ranked No. 4 in the nation, while sophomore Andrew Adams, the 2012 ITA Carolina Region Rookie of the Year, is currently ranked No. 62 in singles. Cox and Jones built their ranking behind a 5-4 record against nationally ranked opponents last season and will look to carry that momentum into the fall. Adams turned in one of the best freshman seasons in school history with a 20-6 dual-match record while playing in one of the top three spots in the singles lineup all season. He won six of his last seven matches in 2011-12, including three of four against nationally-ranked opponents. Sophomores Kyle Koch and Thiago Piheiro will be looking to make their mark this fall as well after tweaking their games this summer. Unlike last fall, which was more of a developmental time for Goffi’s young team, the head coach is expects this fall to be his team’s proving ground, a time for the Gamecocks to prove to themselves what they can achieve.  

    Tennessee: With all six returning singles starters back in Knoxville, the Tennessee Volunteers enter the fall 2012 season with a much more experienced squad than they did a season ago in which the UT lineup featured four freshmen. After a main draw absence in 2011, the Vols will be well represented in the ITA All-American Championships, with sophomores Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese posting career highs in the ITA rankings at No. 15 and 34 to earn bids. While the Vols did not add any freshman for the fall season, the team got a veteran boost with thearrival of senior Maryland transfer John Collins. He and Reese teamed up to win the ITA National Summer Circuit Championships in August and are ranked sixth nationally to start the fall. Libietis and junior Jarryd Chaplin are ranked 17th. Edward Jones is back for his senior year as well after starting three seasons for the Vols. In addition to playing the national and regional ITA tournaments, the Vols will also host the Tennessee Fall Invitational from Oct. 14-16.

    Texas A&M: Texas A&M men’s head tennis coach Steve Denton is no stranger to NCAA post-season play having led the Aggies to the NCAA Championships in each of his six seasons as head coach in Aggieland and the 2012-13 season will have a decided youthful tint to it as the Aggies enter SEC play. The Aggies lost three senior players including No. 1 singles player Alexis Klegou, Colin Hoover and John Lewis. Denton returns six lettermen including senior Niall Angus to lead the young squad. Junior Alberto Bautista was injured and missed the spring 2012 season. Another junior, Junior Ore, was a stable in the upper part of the lineup last year. Sophomores who were in the Texas A&M lineup last spring included Jeremy Efferding, Behzad Minavi, Jordan Szabo and Jackson Withrow. The youngsters will be joined by top recruits Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant. The 2012 NCAA post-season marked the 19th consecutive season to achieve that goal. Entering play in the SEC, the Aggies have a terrific home court advantage at the George Mitchell Tennis Center where the Aggies put together a record 43 straight home match victory streak from 2010 to 2012 before dropping a match to three-time defending national champion USC Trojans.

    Vanderbilt: Head Coach Ian Duvenhage has a young squad this season as no seniors are on the roster for 2012-13. Duvenhage is in his eighth season as the head coach for the Commodores and will look to lead his team back to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight season. Vanderbilt welcomes back redshirt junior Ryan Lipman after missing all of last season with an injury. Lipman led the team with 24 wins as a sophomore and was going to be one of the top players in the SEC last season. Joining the Commodores this season are two newcomers in freshmen Rhys Johnson and Kris Yee. The bulk of the roster is made up of sophomores as Vandy returns five of them, led by Gonzales Austin who was a 2012 Second Team All-SEC and All-Freshmen Team member. The Commodores will participate in four tournaments during the fall season starting with the Southern Collegiates Sept. 7-10 in Athens, Ga. Vanderbilt then has the ITA All-American (Sept. 29- Oct. 7), ITA Regionals (Oct. 19-23) and ITA Indoors (Nov. 8-11).