ANDERSON, S.C. – After posting back-to-back 8-1 setbacks to Peach Belt Conference opponents Lander and USC Aiken, Anderson University men’s tennis returns to its South Atlantic Conference schedule this weekend, beginning with a road matchup with Coker on Saturday, followed by a home match with Tusculum on Sunday.
With AU corralling just two points in its last two matches, the points have come from the middle of its singles lineup. Sophomore Tomas Passalacqua posted a straight-set win over Samuel Poutignat of Lander at the No. 3 position, while classmate Inaki Iriberry claimed a hard-fought 7-6, 6-7, 10-5 victory over USC Aiken’s Patrick Stiebinger at the No. 5 spot. The sophomore tandem both carries even 2-2 singles records for the year.
Despite being ranked No. 4 in the fall season by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the freshmen doubles team of Juan Carracedo and Mateo Rivas hold a 1-3 record on the young season. The pair’s only win came against the Newberry team of Michael Saunders and Vinicius Botelho, 8-4.
With their 1-3 record to begin the season, it equals its 2012 start when the Trojans began the year with three straight setbacks before claiming their first win over Catawba, 9-0. At the conclusion of the 2012 season, AU finished the year 11-8 and 8-1 in SAC play.
Coker was given an upward task to begin the 2014 season, as it squared off with nationally ranked Lander on Feb. 2 and Division I Winthrop on Feb. 9. In the two matches, the Cobras were blanked, falling to the Bearcats, 9-0, and the Eagles, 4-0. Coker had GRU Augusta and USC Aiken on the schedule prior to the AU match, but due to inclement weather, those matches were postponed.
Coker is led by Preseason All-SAC Second Team honoree Andre Stabb, who is projected to play the No. 1 position on Saturday. Joining Stabb with preseason honors is the doubles team of William Marrafao and Martin Moncayo, who joined Carracedo and Rivas on the All-SAC Second Team Doubles list. Despite the rankings, Stabb is 0-2 in singles, while the Marrafao and Moncayo team has dropped both its matches at the No. 2 spot.
In the annual SAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Coker was projected to finish fifth in the league, as the 2014 season mark its first in the conference after making the transition from Conference Carolinas. The Cobras finished a point behind the Trojans in the poll, but picked up two first-place votes.
The Series vs. Coker
Last season marked the first time in over three seasons Anderson faced Coker, as the Cobras spoiled AU’s home opener, capturing a 6-3 win. Not a single Trojan on the current roster has a victory over a Coker opponent during the spring season.
Tusculum began the 2014 season with a loss to PBC opponent North Georgia before capturing its first win of the seas over King, 6-3, on Tuesday. Prior to the start of the year, Tusculum was projected second in the conference, coming off a season when it split the regular season championship with Anderson as both teams had identical 8-1 conference records. The Pioneers closed the 2013 regular season with 12 straight victories before falling to Wingate in the SAC semifinals.
In the annual poll, the Pioneers earned 99 points, eight points behind conference favorite, Wingate. Despite the second-place position, TC earned three first-place votes, the second-most in the SAC behind the Bulldogs with five.
Three of Tusculum’s six starters were honored in the Preseason All-SAC teams, as Lukas and Jonas Winkelmann earned first-team singles honors, joining teammate Nicolas Planchard. With the three Pioneers on the team, the trio earned three of the six positions on the team. Lukas Winkelmann and Planchard were honored in doubles, being named to the first-team doubles squad. Jonas Winklemann was joined by John Talyor on the second-team doubles squad.
The Series vs. Tusculum
Despite the heated battles between the teams over the years, AU has captured all three regular season contests against the Pioneers since Anderson joined the SAC before the 2011 season, including a key 5-4 win in Greeneville a season ago.