It may seem like a scheduling quirk to play in the ITA Regionals a week after playing in the ITA All-America National Championships, but that is exactly what is on tap for the University of Memphis men's tennis team, beginning Friday. The Tigers, however, know not to expect the competition to be any less grueling than last week's All-American championships. The Ohio Valley Regional features some of the top teams in the country, including all three teams from the state of Tennessee that advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 last year.
"We had five teams from our region make the NCAA tournament last season," Head Coach Paul Goebel said. "We had three from the state of Tennessee made the Round of 16, so this is a very, very tough region. I think three of the top five players in the country are from our region, so it's going to be very tough with a lot of good competition in singles and doubles. We had a really good run last year (when we hosted the event), so we are excited to see if we can do it again."
Last year, Memphis advanced three singles players to the quarterfinals. David O'Leary, Connor Glennon and Joe Salisbury all strung together singles wins to make it to the quarterfinal round, with O'Leary falling to eventual singles champion Ryan Lipman from Vanderbilt. Teammates Johnny Grimal and David O'Hare also put together deep runs in last year's event when it was hosted at The Racquet Club of Memphis, advancing to the Round of 16 in singles play.
Memphis enters the regional action following the ITA All-American Championships at the University of Tulsa last week. The Tigers' doubles team of David O'Hare andJoe Salisbury advanced to the Main Draw quarterfinals before falling to the eventual runner-up team from UCLA. The Tiger tandem could face tough competition again this weekend, with the No. 1 ranked doubles team of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese of Tennessee coming off last weekend's ITA All-American doubles title and playing on their home court. Also ranked in the top five in the country, and likely in the field this weekend, will be the No. 4 ranked team of Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai from Kentucky. Just outside the top 10, Vanderbilt could also have the No. 13 ranked team of Ryan Lipman and Gonzales Austin in this weekend's field. Counting O'Hare and Salisbury, the No. 18 ranked team in the country, there could be four top 20 doubles teams in the country at the one regional site.
The Tigers' schedule will begin Friday. Five Tigers have been accepted into the singles field, while three doubles teams will participate in this weekend's event. Junior Connor Glennon will miss this weekend's event, so the Tigers will change up two of their three doubles entries, reuniting seniorsDavid O'Leary and Cedric De Zutter, who teamed together in the NCAA tournament last year, while teaming senior Johnny Grimal with freshman Jarryd Woog.