LOGAN, Utah - Utah State men’s tennis will be making its fourth consecutive appearance at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, traveling to UCLA for a tournament Jan. 26-29, with a chance to advance to the ITA Indoor Nationals, Feb. 16-19, hosted by the University of Washington.
The Aggies will open the Kick-off Weekend against No. 33 UCF and will face either host-UCLA or UC Davis in the second leg of the tournament.
UCLA, ranked No. 5 in the nation at the conclusion of last season, advanced to the quarterfinals in the NCAA Tournament last season with victories over Army (4-0), No. 27 Mississippi (4-0) and No. 12 Texas A&M (4-1). The Bruins run in the tournament came to and end in a 4-2 loss to No. 13 Georgia. Prior to the NCAA Tournament, UCLA captured the Pac-12 regular season title, but dropped a 4-3 decision to USC in the Pac-12 Tournament final. Junior Martin Redlicki represented the Bruins at the NCAA Singles Championships, bowing out in the first round, 6-3, 7-5, to Georgia Tech’s Christopher Eubanks. Redlicki returned in the Doubles Championships and, teaming with freshman Evan Zhu, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Auburn’s duo of Maxime Hinnisdaels and Conner Huertas, followed by a 6-3, 6-3 win over the Texas Tech tandem of Connor Curry and Bjorn Thomson. The run ended in the quarterfinals, with a 6-1, 7-6(4) defeat to the No. 15-ranked pair of Andrew Harris and Spencer Papa of Oklahoma.
UCF, ranked No. 33 in the nation at the conclusion of last season, appeared in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to No. 42 Louisville, 4-3. Prior its national appearance, UCF posted victories over Tulsa (4-2) and Tulane (4-0) to advance to the finals of the American Athletic Conference Championships. However, the run ended in the finals when the Golden Knights lost 4-1 to No. 24 USF. UCF junior Korey Lovett represented UCF in the NCAA Singles Championships, posting a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), win over Kentucky’s Ryotaro Matsumura, before falling 6-1, 6-1, in the second round to Ohio State’s Mikael Torpegaard.
UC Davis finished the 2016-17 season with an overall mark of 14-8 and an appearance in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals. Freshman David Goulak was named the Big West Freshman of the Year, playing Nos. 4-6 in the lineup and finishing the year with an overall mark of 15-8.
Last season, Utah State set numerous program firsts and records. In the fall, junior Kai Wehnelt became the first Aggie to compete in the ITA Mountain Region Tournament finals, where he took second. Also, junior Jaime Barajas was a nationally-ranked singles player in the fall season, the first Aggie to be ranked in singles.
In the spring dual-match season, the Aggies knocked off then-No. 12 TCU on the road, ending the Horned Frogs’ 31-match home winning streak. The victory also booked USU’s first ticket to the ITA National Team Indoors, where the Aggies competed against three top-10 teams. Then, Utah State rattled off nine-consecutive victories, tying the program record for a winning streak. During the streak, the Aggies were ranked as high as No. 39 in the nation, a program-best ranking. The streak helped push USU to 23 wins, a program record for a single season.
The Aggies won the Mountain West regular season and tournament titles, qualifying for USU’s first appearance in program history as a team in the NCAA Tournament. During the last half of the season, freshman Sergiu Bucur won 13-consecutive singles matches, tying a program record for an individual. Lastly, Wehnelt and sophomore Samuel Serrano both earned all-Mountain West honors in singles and as a duo in doubles.
Throughout the course of the season, three Aggies combined to earn Mountain West Player of the Week honors six times, a program record for a single season. Wehnelt and senior Jack Swindells both set a school record by winning 26 singles matches and 48 combined wins between singles and doubles.
Fans can follow USU’s men’s tennis team on Twitter @USUMensTennis, on Facebook at UtahStateMensTennis or on Instagram at USUTennis. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter at @USUAthletics, on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on Instagram at @USUAthletics.
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