KING, SPIR TAKE ON BULLDOG OPPONENTS IN NCAA SINGLES
Athens, Ga. – Kevin King and Juan Spir, the first Georgia Tech teammates to play in the NCAA Singles Championship since 1988, have drawn a couple of Georgia Bulldog rivals for their first-round matches Wednesday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. They are also seeded No. 3 for the NCAA Doubles Championship, which gets underway Thursday.
Both events run concurrently through Monday, when the championship matches will be contested. The singles championship is a 64-player draw, and the doubles championship draw has 32 teams.
King, ranked 24th in the nation in the ITA singles rankings, has a first-round date at 11 a.m. Wednesday against Georgia’s KU Singh, the nation’s 19th-ranked player and the fifth different Bulldog player he has faced this year in various events. The winner of that match will get a second-round contest against Chase Buchanan of Ohio State (No. 10 in the nation) or Tennessee’s Mikelis Libietis.
Spir, ranked 59th in the nation, opens competition at 1:30 p.m. Thursday against the Bulldogs’ Wil Spencer, ranked 11th in the nation. The winner of that match faces either No. 47 Luka Somen of Virginia Tech or No. 48 Tripper Carleton in the second round Thursday.
“Looks like a Georgia Tech vs. Georgia dual match for the singles draw,” said Tech head coach Kenny Thorne. “There will obviously be a lot of familiarity with the players even though it will be first time matchups. Every match here is tough so the guys just have to play their game and compete like they did to get here.”
No. 2 in the ITA rankings, King and Spir will face Fresno State’s Francis Alacantara and Remi Boutillier, ranked 58th nationally, in their first-round match Thursday.
Neither King, nor Spir has played competitively since the ACC Championship in mid-April. King, a senior from Peachtree City, Ga., and Spir, a junior from Medellin, Colombia, are playing in their second NCAA doubles championship. The tandem reached the semifinals last spring at Stanford, Calif., and earned All-America honors. They have a 21-4 record this year, 16-2 in the spring, and 8-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Together they have a 65-21 career record as a doubles team, and they both made the All-ACC team this spring.
“In my opinion they are the best doubles team to ever come through Georgia Tech,” said Thorne. “Watch out for these guys because they enjoy tournament time.”
Both King and Spir are in the NCAA singles field for the first time in their careers. It is the first time Georgia Tech has had two players in the singles championship since Thorne and Tech women’s coach Bryan Shelton were both in the field in 1988. Shelton reached the quarterfinals that year, while Thorne was eliminated in the second round.
King is currently No. 24 in the ITA rankings with a 27-9 singles record for the year and had been ranked as high as No. 7 this spring before a shoulder injury and back spasms hampered him leading up to the ACC Championship. He enjoyed a stellar fall in which he won the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional and advanced to the USTA/ITA National Indoor quarterfinals. King has a 13-6 spring record, all at No. 1, including a 5-4 ACC mark. The left-hander has a 79-40 career singles record, 26-15 in ACC matches.
Spir heated up late in the ACC season, winning four straight matches against ranked opponents, including No. 26 Chris Mengel of Duke on the road and No. 3 Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia at home, both in straight sets. The 6-4 junior has a 16-12 singles record this year, 13-8 in the spring and 6-5 in the ACC, and rose to No. 48 in the ITA rankings, matching the highest of his career, and currently is No. 58.