ANDERSON, S.C. – After facing possibly its toughest challenge of the season last Sunday at Division I power Clemson, Anderson University men’s tennis looks to open South Atlantic Conference play on a high note as it welcomes Newberry to the Upstate on Saturday. First serve from the Max Grubbs Memorial Courts is set for 2 p.m.
AU dropped to the Tigers, 5-0, but managed to record strong performances highlighted by sophomore Paul Michael Calhoun’s effort at No. 4 singles where he was leading CU’s Daniel Strawn before it was called due to the Tigers clinching the match. The youthful duo of Tomas Passalacqua and Inaki Iriberry also claimed four games on Clemson’s tandem of Zachary Kennedy and Christian Harris at No. 3 doubles.
Prior to the season, the freshmen combination of Juan Carracedo and Mateo Rivas were named to the Preseason All-SAC second team for doubles after being ranked No. 4 regionally in the ITA Rankings. On Sunday, Carracedo and Rivas fell to Clemson’s Alejandro Augusto and Fernando Sala 6-3 at the No. 1 position.
Anderson looks to pick up where it left off in conference play a season ago, as the Trojans claimed a co-regular season championship and the top seed in the SAC Tournament. AU finished the 2013 season with an 8-1 conference mark and a 10-6 record overall. Since joining the conference in 2011, the Trojans are 23-4 in the SAC during the regular season.
After its season-opening match against Spartanburg Methodist was washed away due to rain, Newberry has one result under its belt as the Wolves defeated Benedict 8-1 on Wednesday. The win marked the Wolves’ second straight season opening win after Newberry knocked off Belmont Abbey 7-2 in its first match of the season in 2013.
Senior Vinicius Botelho headlines the NC roster as the Fortaleza, Brazil native was named to the first-team singles squad and joined Michael Saunders on the first-team doubles team. Botelho closed the 2013 season with an 18-5 singles record and a 15-7 doubles record playing alongside Saunders for the majority of the year. On Wednesday, Botelho posted a 6-3, 6-2 win over Justin Payton of Benedict for his first singles win of the spring.
Joining the duo with preseason conference honors was sophomore Fernando Espana who was named to the second-team singles squad. Espana, who played the majority of the 2013 year at No. 4 singles, tallied a 17-5 singles mark highlighted by a win over then-nationally-ranked North Georgia’s Sam Gantt.
Last season, the Trojans captured a hard-fought 5-4 win over the Wolves in Newberry, as AU has yet to stumble to its in-state rival since joining the conference prior to the 2011 campaign.