ANDERSON, S.C. – After tallying back-to-back South Atlantic Conference victories over Lincoln Memorial (8-1) and Lenoir-Rhyne on Monday and Tuesday, Anderson University men’s tennis continues its grueling week with three straight matches, beginning on Thursday at home against Limestone, followed by a pair of road contests at Catawba and Wingate on Friday and Saturday.
After beginning the season with a 1-4 record, AU has turned around its season, winning five of its last six contests and currently rides a two-match winning streak. For the year, the Trojans are 6-5 while holding a 6-1 mark in conference play, joining Tusculum and Coker as one-loss teams in the SAC. The trio is chasing Wingate, which sits atop of the league standings with a perfect 7-0 record.
Freshman Mateo Rivas headlines the top of the Anderson lineup, as he has won five straight matches after switching from the No. 2 position to the No. 3 slot. Prior to the move, Rivas suffered six straight setbacks to begin his collegiate career. Since the move, the Buenos Aires, Argentina native has won three matches by straight sets and has knocked off four conference opponents.
Also bringing in a singles winning streak into the three-match stretch, senior Danilo Faria has totaled six straight wins at the No. 6 position. With the winning streak, Faria is 7-2 for the season, headlined by a key three-set win over Tusculum’s Leon Seiz (3-6, 6-3, 6-0) to help seal the narrow 5-4 win over the Pioneers.
With the success by Rivas and Faria in the singles round, the Trojans have yet to drop a singles conference match since their 5-4 victory over TC. Anderson swept the singles round against Mars Hill, Brevard, Lincoln Memorial and Lenoir-Rhyne.
Entering Thursday’s match ranked No. 30 nationally, Limestone is coming off a 5-4 setback at King on Tuesday. With the loss, the Saints dropped to an even 7-7 record on the year, while moving to 3-3 in Conference Carolinas. Prior to the start of the season, LC was projected to capture the league title in the annual Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches’ Poll. In the poll, the Saints tallied five first-place votes, along with 60 points, a single point ahead of league rival, Mount Olive.
In the latest ITA Regional Rankings, Limestone was listed ninth in the 10-team region poll, as it joined Mount Olive as the lone two teams from Conference Carolinas. Despite the regional ranking, the Saints currently sit in fifth place in the league standings, a game behind three teams with a pair of losses.
The top of the LC lineup has struggled as the Saints’ No. 1 player, Antoine Le Dore, is 3-6 for the spring, while No. 2, Lucas Guinski, holds a 4-7 spring record. No. 4 player, Stefano Soares enters Thursday’s contests on an eight-match winning streak, winning every match in straight sets.
The Series vs. Limestone
Anderson is seeking its first win over its in-state rival since its final year in Conference Carolinas in 2010. Since that win, the Trojans are 0-2 against the Saints, as LC defeated Anderson in 2011 and in 2013.
After kicking off the spring season with two straight wins, Catawba has posted just two victories following the promising start, For the year, the Indians are 8-14 overall and 1-8 in SAC play with their lone win coming against Carson-Newman on March 21. Following the win, Catawba has dropped four straight with two more conference matches upcoming.
Junior Pierce Hoover has been slotted at the No. 1 position for the year, but just snapped a seven-match losing streak on Sunday with a 6-0, 6-0 blanking of Lincoln Memorial’s Will Sparks. With the victory, Hoover is 6-16 for the year.
Senior Matthew Nicholson, who is projected to play at No. 2, has dropped four straight matches with his last two setbacks coming in three sets. Nicholson’s last triumph came on March 22 in a key match against Carson-Newman’s Stefano Daza, as Nicholson came away with a three-set (6-4, 3-6, 6-2) win en route to Catawba’s 5-4 win.
The Series vs. Catawba
Since joining the SAC prior to the 2011 season, Anderson is a perfect 3-0 against the Indians, as last year’s 7-2 victory was the first time in the previous three meetings the Indians have scored against the Trojans in the span.
With a match against Lincoln Memorial on Friday pending, Wingate is the only team in the SAC with a perfect conference record, entering Friday with a 7-0 league mark and ranked No. 34 in the country. Overall, the Bulldogs are 12-6 for the year and are currently on a four-match winning streak, beginning with a 6-3 triumph over nationally-ranked Limestone on March 19.
In the latest ITA regional rankings release in the middle of March, Wingate was the lone SAC representative in the poll, rounding out the poll at the No. 10 position. Despite not having an individual player in the regional rankings, the middle of the WU lineup has contributed to its success. No. 3 player, Filippo Pezzoli is 13-4 this season at the position, while teammate Connor Kudrick is 15-1 at the No. 4 spot, as he leads the team in singles wins.
In doubles, the Bulldogs are 37-17 for the season, as the tandem of Kudrick and Ryan Forbes has posted 14 wins at the No. 2 slot this season.
The Series vs. Wingate
Anderson and Wingate are an even 2-2 in its matches spanning to AU’s first season in the SAC in 2011. The Bulldogs are 2-1 in regular season matchups, while the Trojans posted a SAC Tournament win in 2011.