Sept. 22, 2011
The men’s tennis team begins fall play this weekend at the Southern Intercollegiate Championships in Athens, Ga.
The 2011 tournament, which runs from Sept. 23-26, features participants from 26 schools including Auburn, The Citadel, Davidson, Eastern Kentucky, East Tennessee State, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Liberty, Lipscomb, LSU, Mercer, Minnesota, Mississippi State, NC State, Samford, South Carolina, Stetson, Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Winthrop. This is the 44th edition of the Southern Intercollegiate Championships, and it is the oldest fall college tennis tournament in America.
The field will be divided into three singles divisions and two doubles divisions, and there will be a champion from each division. Nine Gophers are competing in the event and there will be three Minnesota players in each singles division.
“I am really excited to see the new guys and how they compete,” said Minnesota coach Geoff Young who has three of his five freshmen competing this weekend. “I know they are excited to do great things but we have to make sure that we keep the tournament in perspective. We are going down there so we can learn and find out what we need to work on so we can be better prepared for the tournaments later in the fall and the upcoming season.”
Senior Phillip Arndt, junior Rok Bonin and freshman Leandro Toledo are all in the top flight which features 64 players. Arndt, who was 21-11 last year, begins his final season as a Gopher against Winthrop’s Nadav Ruppin. Bonin, who was 23-14 a year ago, is seeded twelfth and faces Miguel Cortez of Lipscomb.
Toledo, who is one of five freshmen on Minnesota’s roster begins his collegiate career with a match against Eastern Kentucky’s Hugo Klientovsky. If Toledo prevails, he could face No. 1 seed Eric Quigley of Kentucky in the second round.
The second division is also made up of 64 players and includes senior Julian Dehn, junior Brendan Ruddock and freshman Mathieu Froment. Dehn faces Eric Diaz of host Georgia in the first round. Dehn led the Gophers with 25 wins last year.
Ruddock, who received the Jerry Noyce Most Improved Player award each of the last two seasons, faces Erik Halaj of Stetson in the first round. Froment will contest LSU’s Roger Anderson in his first collegiate match.
Senior Michael Sicora, sophomore Juan Pablo Ramirez and freshman Eric Frueh are three of the 32 players who make up the third division. Sicora will play Josh Cook of the Citadel on Friday, while Ramirez faces Mercer’s John Bauerle. Frueh, who is from Rochester, Minn., will don the Maroon and Gold for the first time against Vanderbilt’s Michael Retta.
In doubles, the duo of Bonin and Dehn are seeded third and received a first-round bye in the top division. They will face a tandem from either Georgia State or the Citadel in the second round. Bonin and Dehn were 16-1 in doubles a year ago and won the Lakewood Ranch Clay Court Classic last fall.
Arndt and Froment are also in the top division and will face Chip Cox and Kyle Koch of South Carolina in the second round. Both teams received a first-round bye.
Toledo and Frueh are partnered in the second division and will compete against Liberty’s Jorge Azuero and Giancarlo Lemmi in the second round, as both teams were granted a first-round bye.
Also receiving a first-round bye in the second division was the team of Ruddock and Ramirez and the Citadel’s duo of David Orces and Elliot Sperr. They will face one another in the second round.
Sicora is the lone Gopher not competing in doubles, and freshmen Jack Hamburg and Tucker Saxon are not playing in the tournament.
This is the first of six fall tournaments which Minnesota will participate in. The Gophers will also host the Nov. 3-6 Gopher Invitational at Baseline Tennis Center.