LAS CRUCES – The New Mexico State men’s tennis team broke into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings for the first time since 2004, appearing in this week’s poll at No. 75 that was released Tuesday.
The Aggies (5-1) crack into the national spotlight after opening up the season with five-straight wins, the last of which was a 4-3 victory over No. 72 UNLV, Saturday in Las Vegas. NM State has been nationally ranked 16 times before this, but not since the March 16, 2004 poll.
Head coach Don Ball said that is nice to be back in the rankings, but he added his team has a lot of work cut out for them.
“We play a lot of good teams this year,” Ball said. “We can’t worry about our ranking, we have to worry about our play. The thing is, rankings are a nice accolade but the bottom line is there are a lot of teams not ranked that are in our vicinity, like a Cal Poly who just beat us.
“We have a very good team, but we need to get to where we are consistent throughout the lineup. The thing I like about this team is we have a great competitive nature and we work really hard.
New Mexico State’s win over UNLV Saturday marked the first time since Feb. 22, 2004 that they beat a ranked opponent. The Aggies swept Abilene Christian, a team that is ranked No. 19 in the Division II rankings, in their third match of the season.
Six opponents still left on New Mexico State’s schedule this season are all in this week’s poll, including four that are in the Top 50. Texas Tech has the highest ranking of any team that the Aggies face this year, as they are ranked No. 26. NM State plays the Red Raiders in Lubbock, Texas, on the last day of February.
The Aggies have been dominant in singles play this year and have won 80.6 percent of their matches. Junior Gustave Diep leads the group with a perfect 6-0 record playing mainly at the No. 3 position. Senior Roman Stoisavljevic owns NM State’s only victory over a ranked singles player. He defeated Southern Mississippi’s Patricio Alavarado, who is ranked No. 99, in three sets last weekend.
First year Aggies (sophomore) Arthur Surreaux and (freshman) Matej Stake sport a 5-1 and 4-1 singles record this year, respectively. Sophomore Jim Brouleau is 5-1 playing at the top two positions and junior Eduardo Salas is 3-1.
In doubles play, Stoisavljevic and Salas lead the team with a 4-1 record at No. 1. Although not currently ranked, the two appeared at No. 30 in the doubles rankings in the fall.
New Mexico State looks to push its record up to 8-1, Feb. 19-21, when they host Montana State, Idaho and UT-Pan American at the NM State Tennis Complex. Those are the last three home matches for the Aggies this season.