Tulsa goes for its fifth-straight C-USA Championship title
Courtesy: Conference USA
IRVING, Texas - For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Tulsa will serve as the top seed in the upcoming Conference USA Men's Tennis Championship at the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium located on Rice's campus in Houston, Texas. Championship action gets underway on Thursday, April 22, with a single match at 2 p.m. CT. The following day features four matches starting at 8 a.m., while semifinal action takes place on Saturday at Noon and 3 p.m. Sunday's championship battle is set for Noon, with the winner earning C-USA's automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Championships.
Top seeded Tulsa (14-9) will play the winner of Thursday's matchup between No. 8 seed Memphis and No 9 seed Tulane. Memphis (10-11) looks for its first first-round win since 2004. That year, the Tigers advanced to the semifinals before losing to the tournament champion Green Wave. Memphis is led at the top of the lineup by senior Charlie Ramsay and sophomore David Henry. The pair own identical 10-9 overall records on the season.
Tulane (3-16) is in its first season of competition since Hurricane Katrina forced the program to go on hiatus in 2005. Sophomore Shaye Wali (4-11) is the team's No. 1 singles player, followed by freshman Joe Young (5-9) at the No. 2 singles spot.
The Golden Hurricane opens the quarterfinals on Friday. The four-time conference champion, Tulsa will defend its league titles behind the firepower of freshman Marcelo Arevalo and sophomore Ashley Watling. Arevalo is ranked No. 35 in the latest ITA poll and is the team's No. 1 singles player, while Watling has had a dominate season earning an ITA ranking of No. 54 and is 5-1 against nationally-ranked opponents. Watling pairs with teammate and senior Philip Stephens at the No. 1 doubles slot. The doubles duo own a conference best national ranking of 27th heading into tournament play.
Tulsa is on the same side of the bracket as No. 4 seed SMU (14-10) and No. 5 seed UAB (12-8), who will play each other at the conclusion of the Tulsa match on Friday. The Mustangs, who are ranked 72nd, enter having won four-straight and seven of its last eight matches. Included in that streak are wins over No. 34 BYU, 4-3, on April 9, and No. 58 TCU, 4-3, in the final regular season match of 2010.
UAB has won three of its last five matches but dropped a tough 5-2 decision to No. 29 Alabama in the regular season finale in Birmingham. The Blazers have three players who have won six-or-more single matches in the last 10 tries. They are led by senior Alex Emery (5-9) at the No. 1 singles slot, followed by sophomore Danny Manlow (11-6) and freshman David Zimmerman (13-6).
Tournament host Rice (11-10) is the No. 2 seed and will take on No. 7 seed Southern Miss (9-10) at 2 p.m. CT for the chance to play the winner of the No. 3 seed and 70th-ranked UCF (11-7) and No. 6 seed East Carolina (18-7) match, which will be at held at 5 p.m. Friday.
Senior Burno Rosa is expected to lead the Owls this week as the 29th-ranked player in the ITA. He has produced an overall record of 12-7 and won six-straight matches at the No. 1 position. Rice also depends on the work of sophomores Michael Nussleiin and Sam Garforth-Bles at the No. 2 and 3 single spots, respectively. The Owls are also the only program in the league to have all three doubles teams ranked among the ITA Top 90. The team has won five of their last seven matches and ended the season against four nationally-ranked opponents. Rice has finished second in the C-USA Championship the last four years. Southern Miss has won three-straight heading into tournament play and has five players on a two-match-or-more win streak. Headlining this list of winners is sophomore Patricio Alvardo (12-6). Winner of five-straight matches, Alvardo is the Golden Eagles No. 1 singles player.
Since UCF became a part of C-USA five years ago, the squad has never been seeded as high as third. The Knights are headed into the tournament winners of their final two matches and led by seniors Marc Rocafort (10-8) and Brock Sakey (14-3). Sakey has won eight of his last 10 matches and is on a three-match winning streak.
East Carolina (18-7) top singles performers is a trio of freshmen in John Schmitt, Bryan Oakley and Massimo Mannino. Schmitt turned in an overall record of 16-8. Oakley posted a 16-5 mark in dual-match play, with most of his wins coming at the No.6 slot. Mannino has been a clutch player for the Pirates at the No. 3 and No. 4 positions with an overall record of 14-7. The Pirates are also on a two-match win streak.
This year's championship features four teams in the top-75 of the ITA rankings: No. 36 Tulsa, No. 41 Rice, No. 70 UCF and No. 72 SMU. In addition the league has five nationally ranked singles players among the Top 75 as well as five doubles teams among the Top 90, including all three of Rice's.
There's FREE ADMISSION to the four-day eight match event but if you can't make it out to the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium follow the action live online at http://conferenceusa.cstv.com/
ITA Singles Rankings (April 20):
No. 29 Bruno Rosa, Rice
No. 35 Marcelo Arevalo, Tulsa
No. 36 Robin Fahgen, SMU
No. 54 Ashley Watling, Tulsa
No. 63 Artem Baradach, SMU
ITA Doubles Rankings (April 20):
No. 27 Philip Stephens/Ashley Watling, Tulsa
No. 45 Adham el-Effendi/Darren Walsh, SMU
No. 71 Michael Nusslein/Christian Saravia, Rice
No. 84 Isamu Tachibana/Oscar Podlewski, Rice
No. 89 Oscar Podlewski/Bruno Rosa, Rice
ITA Team Rankings (April 20):
No. 36 Tulsa
No. 41 Rice
No. 70 UCF
No. 72 SMU
2010 C-USA MEN'S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP
Jake Hess Tennis Stadium e Houston, Texas eApril 22-25
Thurs., April 22
Match 1: (8) Memphis vs. (9) Tulane 2 p.m.
Friday, April 23
Match 2: winner Match 2 vs. (1) Tulsa 8 a.m.
Match 3: (4) SMU vs. (5) UAB 11 a.m.
Match 4: (2) Rice vs. (7) Southern Miss 2 p.m.
Match 5: (3) UCF vs. (6) East Carolina 5 p.m.
Saturday, April 24
Match 6: winner Match 2 and 3 12 p.m.
Match 7: winner Match 4 and 5 3 p.m.
Sunday, April 25
Match 8: winner Match 6 and 7 12 p.m.
All championship times are Central and will be played at the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on Rice's campus.