M. Tennis Hits the Road to Face MSU, Alabama
Feb. 8, 2018
SAN DIEGO – The San Diego State men’s tennis team continues its season-long road swing this weekend when it battles Southeastern Conference foes Mississippi State and Alabama in a pair of dual matches.
The Aztecs will lock horns with the Bulldogs, who are tied for 14th in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings (ITA) on Friday, Feb. 9 in Starkville, Miss., before taking on the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Sunday, Feb. 11. Both encounters are slated for a 1 p.m. CT/11 a.m. PT start.
In addition, live scoring results will be available on GoAztecs.com for both matches, as well a link to streaming video for the Scarlet and Black’s clash vs. MSU.
SDSU (0-4) is coming off a pair of losses at UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly last week. Against the Gauchos, the Aztecs recorded just one singles victory by sophomore Joel Popov in a 6-1 defeat at Santa Barbara on Feb. 2. The following day vs. the Mustangs, SDSU dropped a hotly contested doubles point, but came up short in four of six singles matches en route to a 5-2 setback.
Junior Sander Gjoels-Andersen posted two wins against Cal Poly, combining with sophomore Nicholas Mitchell for a 6-2 conquest at No. 1 doubles, before emerging with a straight-set triumph in the No. 3 singles position, 6-4, 7-5. Sophomore Rafael Gonzalez Almazan recorded the Scarlet and Black’s other singles victory vs. the Mustangs with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph in the sixth slot.
Gonzalez Almazan leads the Aztecs with nine wins on the season, while Popov has pocketed eight victories overall. In doubles play, Gonzalez Almazan has teamed with junior Raul de la Torre to post a 7-4 record on the year, including a 6-2 mark during the fall tournament schedule.
SDSU is 3-8 against SEC schools dating back to 1989, including a 5-2 defeat to the Bulldogs last season at Aztec Tennis Center in the only previous meeting between the two squads. Meanwhile, Sunday’s clash will mark the Scarlet and Black’s first-ever dual match against Alabama.
MSU, which advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, is off to a 4-1 start this season after splitting two results at the ITA Kickoff Weekend, Jan. 27-28, in Stillwater, Okla. The Bulldogs opened with a 4-1 triumph over Wisconsin before falling to No. 14 Oklahoma State by an identical count. Previously, Mississippi State completed a 3-0 homestand after rolling past UAB (7-0), South Florida (5-2) and Miami (5-2).
Individually, the Bulldogs landed three players in the latest ITA singles poll, including No. 2 Nuno Borges, the reigning SEC Player of the Year who sports an 11-1 overall record, including a 4-0 mark in dual-match competition. In addition, Giovanni Oradini merited a No. 13 ranking on the strength of a 17-7 ledger, including a 14-6 record during the fall tournament schedule, while Strahinja Rakic finds himself in 60th position this week, buoyed by an 11-5 mark. In doubles, the tandem of Niclas Braun and Trevor Foshey garnered a No. 51 ranking by the ITA this week.
Alabama (9-0), which is receiving votes in the latest ITA poll, remains unbeaten on the year after blanking Tulsa 4-0 in its first road test of the season on Feb. 4.
Edson Ortiz has been the Crimson Tide’s top winner thus far with a 13-4 singles record, including a 7-0 mark in dual matches playing primarily in the third and fourth positions, while Alexey Nesterov has compiled an 11-5 overall ledger and a 6-0 dual-match mark competing mostly in the fifth and sixth spots. Alabama also boasts Thibault Cancel, the 2017 ITA South Region Rookie of the Year who is 4-0 in dual matches alternating between the top two slots on the Tide’s ladder.
In addition, Cancel has joined forces with Nesterov to forge a 5-0 record at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, while the pairing of Ortiz and Mazen Osama have fashioned a 6-0 mark at the top of the rotation.
Following Sunday’s action, San Diego State will travel to Las Vegas next weekend to face UNLV (Feb. 16) and Oregon (Feb. 17) on consecutive days.