Friday January 25, 2013Gators Set to Host 2013 ITA Men's Kick-Off Weekend
Collegiate tennis will be back in full force this weekend as the fifth annual ITA Kick-Off Weekend is set for January 26-27. The University of Florida will serve as one of 15 campus sites for first and second round matches, as the Gators will host St. John’s, South Alabama and UNC-Wilmington in Gainesville this weekend.
Florida will play St. John’s in the first round on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. Following the morning match, South Alabama and UNC-Wilmington will play at 1 p.m. There is no admission for fans to attend the matches and parking is available free of charge.
The winning team from Saturday’s first round matches will meet on Sunday at 1 p.m., battling for a berth in the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championships, hosted next month by the University of Washington in Seattle. There will also be a consolation match on Sunday at 9 a.m.
Florida, 2-0 on the season after wins over Miami (5-2) and UCF (7-0), is the top seed in the regional site and has three singles players inside the Top 125, as well as a doubles team inside the Top 50. The Gators' Florent Diep is the highest ranked player at the event at No. 26. The junior will likely play in the top singles position and has already shown the growth in his game this fall by winning the USTA/ITA Southeast Region singles title. Diep also pairs with Mike Alford as the 46th-ranked doubles team. Bob van Overbeek is ranked No. 51 in singles and freshman Gordon Watson is ranked No. 118 after a strong fall season.
St. John’s doubles pair of Vasko Mladenov and Hugo Morth are ranked 52nd heading into the season. The Red Storm are 0-2 on the season, with losses to USF (7-0) and Stetson (5-2).
The Seahawks of UNC-Wilmington also have four players/teams in the preseason ITA rankings. A 12-3 fall season for Rafael Aita produced a No. 37 ranking, making him a key player for UNC Wilmington along with 121st-ranked Sam Williams. In doubles, the Seahawks boast the 10th-ranked pair of Chris Cooprider and Kosta Blank. Aita and Williams are ranked No. 53 as a doubles tandem. UNCW is 2-0 on the season with wins over Troy (7-0) and Appalachian State (9-0).
South Alabama is 1-1 on the season, beating Florida A&M (4-3) and losing to Florida State (5-2) last weekend in Tallahassee.
2013 ITA Kick-Off Weekend
Saturday, January 26
10 a.m. – FLORIDA vs. St. Johns
1 p.m. – UNC-Wilmington vs. South Alabama
Sunday, January 27
9 a.m. – Consolation Match
1 p.m. – Championship Match
The 15 universities hosting ITA Kick-Off Weekend events were designated as host sites in order of their year-end 2012 ITA team ranking. Three visiting schools will travel to each host site for a four-team tournament with the host school facing the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed playing the No. 3 seed.
For complete coverage of the 2013 ITA Kick-Off Weekend please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, for updates and news from the weekend's events. Use the hashtag #ITAKickOff for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "ITAKickOff" to find others who are tweeting from across the nation about ITA Kick-Off Weekend, Jan. 25-28.