MEMPHIS - - The University of Memphis men's tennis team has been invited into the ITA Kickoff Weekend for a second straight season, giving the Tigers another shot at qualifying for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Memphis will participate in the Mississippi State regional, with an eye on trying to be the one team qualifying from the regional for the Indoor Championships, scheduled for February 14-17 and hosted at Texas A&M University.
Memphis will be joined in the tournament field by South Carolina and Harvard. The Tigers, who will be the No. 3 seed, will face South Carolina in the opening match. South Carolina was an NCAA tournament team in 2013, finishing with an 18-11 mark before falling to UNC Wilmington in the NCAA first round, 4-0. The Gamecocks could have every player from this year's roster back next year, as the team's lone senior, Harry Menzies, missed his junior campaign due to injury. The remainder of the roster consisted of two juniors and four sophomores for head coach Josh Goffi.
The winner of that match will face the winner of the Mississippi State/Harvard match. Like Memphis, Mississippi State advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 last season, finishing with an 18-10 mark. The Bulldogs sported a roster with two seniors this season, possibly returning a roster that featured four freshmen and two juniors this season.
The Mississippi State/Harvard match will be a rematch from the NCAA Second Round. Harvard advanced to the NCAA tournament, but fell 4-1 to Mississippi State in the NCAA Second Round this year, capping a 19-6 season. The Crimson also could return almost every player from this year's roster, with just one senior on their 2013 roster.
Memphis will open its 2013-14 slate with a strong fall slate that includes the Virginia Invitational, the ITA All-American Championships, the ITA Ohio Valley Regional and a pair of USTA Future events in Florida. The tentative spring schedule includes a tournament at Georgia Tech, the ITA Kickoff weekend and matches at eight nationally-ranked opponents from this season, including matches at No. 10 Ole Miss and No. 12 Baylor.
The Tigers have also put in a bid to host the first American Athletic Conference Championships. The results of that bid will be announced in the coming weeks.
Memphis could return every player from this year's roster. The Tigers, who finished the year No. 20 in the country, have made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA tournament and won their first-ever C-USA Championship this season. The team then picked up its first two wins in the NCAA tournament, and appeared in the Round of 16 for the first time in program history.