CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's tennis team will open the season this weekend in the three-day Ned and Tina Jacobs Lobo Tennis Winter Kickoff in Albuquerque, N.M. The Islanders will take on Arizona, UC Irvine and host New Mexico twice throughout the weekend starting on Friday, Jan. 17 at the Linda Estes Tennis Center.
The Islanders will play two matches a day in the new shortened college format where singles is played first and the match stops when the team reaches four points. In the case of a 3-3 tie, the match will be determined by the winner who takes the best two of three 10-point tiebreakers in doubles play.
"This is a great event and a very well put together event," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "These are four teams that are always in the national rankings playing each other, so the new college format is a very smart idea. I'm a big believer that all boats rise for college tennis with a format that brings more fans and makes it more television friendly. It will be a little new for everyone, so all of the teams are really in the same boat. The matches will be a little shorter and feature more sudden deaths, which makes it more fan friendly.
"When New Mexico's Head Coach Alan Dils called me to explain the format I knew right away it was a great idea. Some people are worried that the shortened format will give us less tennis, but this is a classic example of how we will actually get more tennis and more chances to play nationally ranked teams. Our ITA system ranking is based on wins against nationally ranked teams, so this is a very beneficial format for everyone."
The No. 67-ranked Islanders will have No. 1 player and the reigning Southland Conference Player of the Year Peter Nagy back in the singles lineup. Nagy, last season's First Team All-Southland selection for both singles and doubles, completed his spring with a 16-4 singles record, with two of his four losses coming to ranked opponents. He finished with a perfect 5-0 record in Southland Conference matches at the No. 1 singles position, never losing a set throughout league play.
As a sophomore, Nagy became the first Islander to take part in the NCAA Men's Singles Championships in program history after winning the conference championship at No. 1 singles and being ranked in the top 125 singles players in the nation.
Joining Nagy will be senior Matt Westmoreland, who tallied a 14-9 record last season, including a 6-0 Southland Conference mark. Pietro Jordao, Ricardo Mayagoitia, Javier Pujol and Guillaume Rauseo also return to the Islanders' lineup. Mayagoitia posted a 4-2 singles record in the fall after compiling a 16-3 singles record last season, including a 10-1 mark in the No. 4 spot.
Making their spring collegiate debuts will be freshmen Paul Cook and Philip Kuehnen. Cook put together a solid performance in the fall with a 3-1 singles record. The Petts Wood, England native fell to fellow freshman Kevin Bettendroffer in the semifinals of the Marco & Co. Catering Islanders Open. The Islanders will be without the Islanders Open champion, Bettendroffer, who will remain in Corpus Christi to finish a winter semester class.
The Islanders will open play on Friday at 9 a.m. MST against Pac-12 Arizona, in a rematch of the 2009 NCAA Championships. The Wildcats return nine players from a team that finished 10-14 a year ago.
"We play Arizona in our first match," Moore said. "They are definitely a team we have a lot of respect for. A team that beat us in the 2009 NCAA Championships, so we know that we will have to bring our best and most focused mindset to the match."
Following the first match, the Islanders will take on No. 72-ranked New Mexico at 7:30 p.m. MST. Last season, the Islanders dropped a 7-0 decision to New Mexico in the second match of the season. The Lobos have one senior and three juniors to go along with seven underclassmen. Last season, New Mexico compiled a 14-13 record.
On Saturday, the Islanders will rematch the Lobos at 12:30 p.m. MST before taking on UC Irvine at 4 p.m. MST. The Anteaters are coming off its 14th Big West regular-season title after registering a 9-17 record.
The Islanders will wrap play on Sunday against UC Irvine at 9 a.m. MST and will rematch the Wildcats at 4 p.m. MST.
A&M - Corpus Christi is coming off their sixth straight conference regular-season championship and their seventh consecutive year of reaching the top 65 in the ITA national rankings. Last season the Islanders returned to the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in the last six years.
"We're excited about what this upcoming year can hold and we feel this team has a great potential if we make the choice to outwork people and stick together as a true team," Moore added.
The men's team will remain on the road to face New Mexico State and Utah State in Las Cruces, N.M. on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, respectively.
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Ned and Tina Jacobs Lobo Tennis Winter Kickoff Schedule
Linda Estes Tennis Center (Jan. 17-19)
Friday, Jan. 17:
9 a.m. MST: Arizona vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
Not before 12:30 p.m. MST: UC Irvine vs. Arizona
Not before 4 p.m. MST: New Mexico vs. UC Irvine
Not before 7:30 p.m. MST: New Mexico vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
Saturday, Jan. 18:
9 a.m. MST: UC Irvine vs. Arizona
Not before 12:30 p.m. MST: New Mexico vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
Not before 4 p.m. MST: Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs. UC Irvine
Not before 7:30 p.m. MST: New Mexico vs. Arizona
Sunday, Jan. 19:
9 a.m. MST: UC Irvine vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
Not before 12:30 p.m. MST: New Mexico vs. UC Irvine
Not before 4 p.m. MST: Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs. Arizona
Not before 7:30 p.m. MST: New Mexico vs. Arizona