Tech opens season in Sunshine State
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Shortening a winter break is not a student’s ideal way to relax before the spring semester begins. But for the Tennessee Tech men’s tennis team, they were ready to return and begin practice before the season begins.
“With the addition of two talented freshman in Alex Chen and Oscar Pachon this semester, we can have a special year,” said first-year head coach Dan Silverstein. “I have been in coaching a while now and I have not see a team that fight for each other as much as these guys do.”
While Ohio Valley Conference play is still several weeks away, the Golden Eagles have key matches against top ranked opponents at the top of the schedule. First up is a trip to the sunshine state for a pair of matches.
Florida A&M is up first on Jan. 16. The Rattlers finished atop the southern division in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference last season going 3-0 in their division and 14-11 overall. Tech is 7-0 all-time against FAMU with the series beginning in 1999. The last time the two teams met was three years ago when the Golden Eagles stole a 4-3 decision.
“FAMU is a very athletic talented team,” Silverstein said. “They are an outdoor team. We will only have a day and half of outdoor practice before we play so we will see.”
Not having any rest, Tech stays in Tallahassee overnight and will play on of the topped ranked teams in the country. Florida State, who is ranked No. 11 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Pre-Season poll, finished the 2008 season third in the ACC behind national finalist Virginia and a half game behind North Carolina. Individually, the Seminoles have three players ranked in the top-100 led by No. 29 Clint Bowles and No. 30 Jean-Yves Aubone.
“To be in preseason ranked No. 11 is enough said,” Silverstein said. “They have some highly ranked players, but we should match up to them pretty well. With our guys we can knock off someone that are heavily favored.”
Tech will then have less than a week before traveling to Middle Tennessee for an afternoon match on Jan 23. The Golden Eagles might not have a match for almost a month, but they will be at the courts getting ready for a trip north to Indiana for a pair of matches before returning to Florida and a spring break trip, facing Auburn-Montgomery and Division II top ranked foe West Florida.
On the way back, Tech will play its second ACC foe when they visit Atlanta for a match against Georgia Tech on Mar. 17 before traveling up I-24 to Chattanooga for a match against the Mocs the next day. Just two days later Tech will begin a three match home stand and open OVC action. Tech will begin its quest for its fourth straight OVC title with matches against Morehead State and UT Martin on Jan. 20 and 21.
Tech will then dip back into non-conference action when they host Appalachian State. Tech has only faced the Mountaineers once before on Feb. 22, 1987. The Golden Eagles fell in the match 1-8 in Cookeville.
Over the following weeks Tech plays the rest of its conference season and will also face a few more non-conference teams before the OVC Tournament Apr. 16-19 in Nashville, Tenn.
“We will take this year one match at a time,” Silverstein added. “Our goal is to win the OVC regular season and tournament titles and make the NCAA Championships. Our strong non-conference schedule get us ready and to face some of the top schools in the OVC.”
“Jacksonville State will be a tough match after they knocked us out of the tournament last season, but with Samford leaving the conference, we have a strong chance of repeating as OVC champions.”