A new season begins Friday for the University of Miami men’s tennis team as the Hurricanes are set to compete for their fourth straight NCAA championship.
The nation’s No. 29 Miami (16-9) earned a double seed in the Gainesville area and will face third seed South Florida Bulls (14-10) at 2 p.m. Friday.
“I am very excited for this group. It’s always special to have the chance to keep playing,” said head coach Aljosa Piric. “We’re lucky to be going to one of the best regions in the NCAA championship and we’re looking forward to playing Friday.”
The Hurricanes have had their fair share of competition this season, playing 14 games against ranked opponents. Miami is 6-8 against the top 75 opponents this season, with three wins against the top 30 teams.
Miami is led in the first singles by graduate student Dan Martin, who is ranked No. 62 among Division I singles players. Martin was named the third alternate for the NCAA singles championship, which will take place after the team championship.
Martin is 24-7 in singles matches this season and 13-2 in opening singles matches. The Laval, Quebec, Canada native has collected six wins over ranked opponents, highlighted by a 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 16 Trey Hilderbrand in January.
Fifth-year seniors Benjamin Hannestad and Bojan Jankulovski showed leadership and composure in their final season with the Hurricanes, each scoring double-digit singles wins. In doubles, fourth-year juniors Franco Aubone and Juan Martin Jalif battled consistently for top spot in doubles, taking on five ranked doubles teams.
Fourth-year junior Oren Vasser and freshman Martin Katz have amassed 15 and 13 singles wins, respectively, while freshman Casper Christensen is hovering just near the double digit mark with nine this season.
It will take an all-out team effort to defeat South Florida as the Bulls enter the NCAA Championship after winning six of their last seven games.
“South Florida is a very tough team. We know them very well from playing in the same region and from playing them last year,” said Piric. “They started off a little slow but as the season progressed they started to play better and towards the end of the year they had a number of top notch wins to qualify for the tournament. We we expect a battle in this first round game.
Miami and South Florida have faced each other twice before in the NCAA Tag Team Championship, with each school picking up a win. Both games took place in Gainesville, with the Bulls earning a 4-1 victory in 2002 and Miami advancing to the second round with a 4-2 victory in 2008.
“Hopefully we can give ourselves the opportunity, with a win, to face defending national champion Florida Gators,” Piric said.
For more information visit: MiamiHurricanes.com
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