The 2013 SEC men's tennis season is slated to start on Thursday. Read up about all of the league's teams before the start of the year right here.
The Alabama men’s tennis team returns four players from a season ago and welcomes five newcomers to its roster. Among the returnees is senior Daniil Proskura, who ranked No. 95 in the ITA preseason singles rankings, junior Stuart Kenyon, and sophomores Brian Conlon and Becker O’Shaughnessey, the 100th-ranked singles player in the preseason poll. In addition to their singles rankings, Proskura and O’Shaughnessey also rank 15th in doubles. Alabama has four freshmen, including Hayes Brewer, Saxon Buehning, Sean Donohue and Nikko Madregallejo and junior transfer, Andrew Goodwin. The Tide is under the direction of second-year head coach George Husack, who in his first season, guided Alabama back to the NCAA Championship tournament and coached the Tide’s No. 1 doubles team to All-America honors. He is assisted by Ryler DeHeart as well as volunteer Ricky Doverspike and undergraduate assistant coach Jarryd Botha.
The Razorbacks hired Andy Jackson as head coach this past June. Jackson has 29 years of head coaching experience at Florida and Mississippi State, compiling a 496-234 record, and is the only coach to win an SEC title at two different schools. He has won three conference regular-season titles, three conference tournament crowns and three times earned SEC Coach of the Year honors. The team will begin the fall season at the SEC Fall Coaches Championship in Nashville, Tenn., starting on Sept. 19.
Auburn is coming off a 13-11 season, winning five conference matches and reaching the NCAA Tournament for the 14th consecutive year and 19th in the last 20 years. The Tigers return four players from a season ago including two seniors in Dan Cochrane and Dennis Lengsfeld. Both Cochrane and Lengsfeld combined for over 30 singles victories last year and will join junior Lukas Ollert in the top-three positions for the 2013-14 season. Ollert comes in to his third season off a 21-8 record, the best singles recoron the team. Ollert played the majority of the season at the No. 2 spot and comes into the year as the highest ranked Tiger at No. 75. Auburn’s first fall tournament will take place at the SEC Fall Classic in Nashville, Tenn., starting on Sept. 19 and running through Sept. 22.
The Florida men’s tennis team is looking forward to the 2013-14 season with high hopes. After losing just two seniors, the Gators add three freshmen and two other players who had to sit out the 2013 spring season. UF returns a lot of experience with seniors Michael Alford, Florent Diep and Stephane Piro all coming off good seasons and the return of Spencer Newman, who sat out all of last year. Piro enters the fall ranked 39th in the ITA singles rankings and Diep is ranked 52nd. Alford led the team with 30 singles wins last year, while Newman led the team with 32 singles wins as a sophomore in 2011-12. Sophomore Gordon Watson gained valuable experience as a freshman last year as well. Newcomer Diego Hidalgo, from Ecuador, must sit out this fall but will be eligible in January. A trio of highly ranked freshmen, Maxx Lipman, Elliott Orkin and Joshua Wardell, will contribute right away for the Gators.
The Georgia men's tennis team opens the fall season by playing host to the Southern Intercollegiate Championships Sept. 13-16 in Athens. It will be the first of six fall tournaments for UGA. The Bulldogs have four players in the ITA Preseason Rankings, including two doubles teams in the top-seven. Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland are ranked No. 2, and the duo of Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha is ranked seventh. In singles, Wagland came in at No. 19, Pasha is No. 32, and Pieters is No. 72. Georgia's fall roster includes two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and a redshirt freshman. This is the 26th season as head coach for Manuel Diaz, who last year moved into second place on the SEC's all-time wins list.
The University of Kentucky men's tennis team will look to continue its run of recent success this fall under the direction of second-year head coach, Cedric Kauffmann. The Wildcats return five of its six starters from a year ago, and a team that made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 for a program-record fourth-straight year. Kentucky will be led by preseason No. 9, and 2013 All-American, Tom Jomby. In addition to Jomby, UK returns Alejandro Gomez, Charles Minc, Beck Pennington and Grant Roberts, who were all starters a year ago. Kentucky will play in 11 different fall tournaments, spanning nine different states throughout the fall season. The Wildcats will kick off the schedule at three different tournaments on Sept. 16.
The LSU men's tennis team is coming off a 16-12 season, going 5-7 in conference play. The Tigers finished No. 22 in the nation, capping off their season with an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Team Championships. LSU lost four players to graduation this season, including Roger Anderson, Olivier Borsos, Mark Bowtell, and 2013 All-SEC Second Team member Stefan Szacinski. The Tigers will be led by junior Chris Simpson, who enters the 2013-14 season ranked No. 29 in singles. Simpson was named Player to Watch for the Southern Region by the ITA this past season and he aims to prove them right. With another year of experience for current players and some fresh, young talent, LSU looks to maintain their national ranking and continue to serve as competitive opponents in the SEC this coming year.
Ole Miss returns four of the top six from last year’s team, which finished the year ranked No. 10 in the nation. The Rebels are once again led by junior Nik Scholtz, who earned All-America honors in both singles and doubles for the second year in a row and also reached the NCAA Doubles Semifinals in 2013. Scholtz begins the fall ranked No. 7 in the nation in singles and No. 28 in doubles with William Kallberg. Kallberg is ranked No. 65 in singles, while the Rebels’ lone senior, Johan Backstrom and sophomore Stefan Lindmark team up for a No. 24 ranking in doubles. The Rebels will kick off the fall portion of the season Sept. 20 at the SEC Coaches Championship in Nashville, Tenn. Redshirt Freshman Vinod Gowda will make his debut for the Rebels this fall. Several Rebels were selected to compete in the ITA All-American Championships in October. Scholtz is Main Draw singles, while William Kallberg will start in the Qualifying. The rest of the team will begin action in the prequalifying.
After an impressive 2012-13 season that saw the Mississippi State men's tennis squad return to the NCAA Round of 16 for the first since 2001, attention now shifts to the upcoming 2013 fall campaign. Returning for the Bulldogs is senior Malte Stropp and sophomore Jordan Angus, who together earned an ITA preseason ranking of 6th nationally in doubles. In singles play, Stropp will begin the fall ranked 40th, while Angus starts off at No. 113, both career highs. Sixth-year head coach Per Nilsson and second-year assistant Matt Roberts welcomed three newcomers to the Maroon and White for the 2013-14 slate: Florian Lakat (Paris, France), Robin Haden (Dandery, Sweden) and Tassilo Schmid (Tyler [TX] CC). Lakat and Haden join the Bulldogs as top 10 juniors who were dominate in junior play in their respective countries. Schmid comes to Starkville via Tyler, Texas, where he helped lead Tyler Community College to the 2013 NJCAA national championship and the 2012 NJCAA finals. MSU will begin the fall season in Nashville, Tenn., at the SEC Invitational before heading to the 2013 ITA All-American Championships (Tulsa, Okla.) and the 2013 ITA Southern Regional Championships (Tuscaloosa, Ala.).
South Carolina men's tennis kicks off a three-event fall schedule at the SEC Fall Invitational in late September. The Gamecocks return five of their six singles entries from last season, adding a pair of freshmen who make up the 24th-ranked signing class in the country. Head coach Josh Goffi enjoys a veteran team for the first time in his career, and it is one highlighted by his first All-America selection – Tsvetan Mihov – and two other All-SEC honorees – Andrew Adams and Thiago Pinheiro. The trio accounted for 50 singles victories last season, playing dual matches largely in the top three spots in the order. The remaining returners have been solid contributors as well with Kyle Koch coming off a team-best 22 singles wins last season, including a 9-1 SEC record. Koch and Chip Cox teamed up over the summer to win the doubles bracket at the ITA National Collegiate Summer Championships to earn a spot in the main draw of the All-American Championships in October. The victory has the duo ranked 26th in the nation in preseason rankings. Mihov and Pinheiro come in tied for 32nd as well. In singles, Mihov will enter the 2013-14 campaign with a No. 14 ranking, and Adams comes in at No. 62.
As head coach Sam Winterbotham starts his eighth year at Tennessee, the Volunteers return their top four starters from a team that reached the NCAA quarterfinals and finished sixth nationally last season. Last week, junior Mikelis Libietis reclaimed his No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles. He is opening the season in Europe as a member of Latvia's Davis Cup team. Hunter Reese, the other half of the No. 1 doubles team, is ranked 24th in singles and fellow junior Brandon Fickey is ranked No. 110. Jarryd Chaplin is also back for his senior season. Several new faces will see playing time this fall as three freshmen open their college careers in the coming weeks: Markus Kerner, Sean Karl and Sunay Bhat. Karl is ready for a return to the courts after recovering from a battle with cancer over the last year.
The Aggies open the fall season on Sept. 20-22 in Northern California for the Napa Valley Invitational, while other members of the squad travel to the SEC Fall Classic in Nashville. The squads will reconvene the following weekend in Tulsa, Okla., for the ITA All-American, Sept. 28-Oct. 6. A&M makes its lone home appearance of the fall when it hosts the Conference Challenge on Oct. 11-13 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Following the homestand, the Maroon and White take the short trip to Waco on Oct. 19-22 for the ITA Texas Regional with the top finishers advancing to the prestigious USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, Nov. 7-10, in Flushing New York.
Entering his ninth season, Vanderbilt men’t tennis head coach Ian Duvenhage will look to build off the teams Sweet 16 appearance from last season. The Commodores are returning seven from last year’s squad including preseason No. 4 singles player Ryan Lipman. In addition, Duvenhage brought in three freshmen that should make an immediate impact. The expectations for this team are high, with hopes to advance even farther in the NCAA team and individual tournament.