NORMAN – The No. 18 Oklahoma men's tennis team returns to the Headington Family Tennis Center this weekend to host the ITA Kickoff Weekend. OU is one of 15 schools across the country to host a regional for ITA Kickoff Weekend. The Sooners' competition will feature one ranked opponent in No. 16 Illinois along with Northwestern and Georgia Tech.
The Sooners' first match will be Saturday at 2 p.m. CT against Northwestern. A Sooners’ win would result in a 1 p.m. CT Sunday matchup with the winner of the Illinois/Georgia Tech match, which will take place Saturday morning at 10 a.m. CT. The consolation matchup will take place Sunday at 10 a.m. CT.
The winner of the four-team regional will qualify for the ITA Division I National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle, Wash. Feb. 16-19. OU's two matches this weekend will air on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
"We are honored to host the ITA Kickoff again this year and look forward to playing in front of our great fans. It means so much to our guys to see everyone cheering them on and really inspires them to fight even harder," OU head coach Nick Crowell said. "We have been working hard and look forward to this great opportunity," Crowell added.
Oklahoma (5-0) has held steady at the No. 18 spot in the first three Oracle/ITA team rankings through Jan. 24. In singles action, junior Ferran Calvo is ranked No. 17 nationally. In doubles competition, Sooners’ sophomore duo of Adrian Oetzbach and Jochen Bertsch are nationally ranked at No. 43.
OU recorded its fourth and fifth straight victory last weekend when it defeated Arizona (4-1) and Abilene Christian (4-0) at the Headington Family Tennis Center to remain undefeated in dual match play. Four Sooners have yet to lose a singles match this spring: junior Alex Bakshi (3-0), freshman James Davis (2-0), and sophomores Jochen Bertsch (5-0) and Adrian Oetzbach (4-0). In doubles competition, OU has clinched the doubles point in all five of
The Sooners have welcomed six new faces to the program from a season ago. Two transfers, juniors Ferran Calvo (Tyler Junior College) and Alex Bakshi (Texas A&M), along with four freshmen, James Davis, Max Stewart, Stefano Tsorotiotis, and Jake van Emburgh. Each newcomer has recorded a victory either in singles or doubles play to start the spring season. Five of the six competed in the fall for the Sooners, with JUCO transfer Ferran Calvo proving himself as a valid candidate for the No. 1 singles spot. Calvo finished the fall slate with a 22-4 record after starting on a 17-match win streak.
The Valencia, Spain, native took home wins at the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational and Alabama Four-in-the-Fall while also representing the Sooners at the Oracle/ITA Fall National Championships, finishing in the consolation quarterfinal. Other newcomers won their first collegiate titles for the Sooners including Alex Bakshi winning the Napa Valley Tennis Classic in his first tournament as a Sooner, and freshman Jake van Emburgh notching his first title at the Alabama Four-in-the-Fall as well, winning the Houndstooth flight.
The Northwestern Wildcats are led by head coach Arvid Swan in his 11th season at the helm in Evanston. The
In singles play, the Wildcats have relied heavily on fresh faces early in 2018. Freshman Antonioni Fasano has competed at the No. 1 spot in the Wildcats first two dual matches, recording a win over the No. 16 ranked player in the nation, NC State’s Alexis
Illinois is coached by Brad Dancer, entering his 14th season as head coach of the Fighting Illini. The Illini concluded the 2016-17 season with
The No. 16 Fighting Illini return key seniors Aron Hiltzik and Aleks Vukic from a year ago. Vukic earned ITA All-America honors for the second straight season following
SCOUTING GEORGIA TECH
Georgia Tech is headed by reigning ACC Coach of the Year Kenny Thorne and looks to advance to its fourth straight NCAA Tournament in 2018. The Yellow Jackets have started dual-match play with a 3-1 record with two wins against The Citadel in a doubleheader and a victory over Auburn. Their only loss came at the hands of Tennessee in a tight 4-3 decision on Jan. 19.
The Jackets’ seniors Elijah Melendez and Michael Kay have compiled an undefeated 4-0 record in singles play to start the season. Sophomores Carlos Divar and Chris Yun have also had exceptional starts to the season from the No. 2 and 3 spot in the singles lineup. Divar is nationally ranked at No. 85 in singles the ITA. Georgia Tech is 9-2 overall in doubles matches to start the 2018 slate.
This weekend’s matches will feature free t-shirts, free food from Raising Canes, and free OU tennis t-shirts available to fans in attendance. Along with the giveaways, fans may enter for a chance to win an Apple 4KTV. All matches throughout the weekend will be played indoors with free admission.
For more information on OU men's tennis, follow the team on Twitter @OU_MTennis.