Golden Eagles face three matches in three days, starting Friday on a neutral court

Golden Eagles face three matches in three days, starting Friday on a neutral court

By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Tennessee Tech tennis team faces three matches in three days this weekend, opening with a non-conference match on neutral courts followed by a pair of crucial Ohio Valley Conference bouts in Nashville.

Tech will face USC Upstate Friday at noon at the East Tennessee State courts in Johnson City, Tenn., Belmont on Saturday at 10 a.m., and wrap up the weekend at Tennessee State at 1 p.m. Sunday. The match against Belmont, originally scheduled for the Wildwood Tennis Club in Brentwood, has been moved to Brentwood Academy due to a scheduling conflict.

USC Upstate (7-11 overall) had a three-match win streak snapped Saturday by North Florida. The leader for the Spartans has been Jamie Yates, a sophomore from New Zealand, who owns an 8-2 record in the No. 4 singles spot. In the top rung of the ladder, Matthias Kidler, a senior from Germany, has posted a 3-3 record and Ramon Simonetti, a sophomore from Brazil, is 2-9. Kidler and Gonzalo Blanco, a senior from Argentina, have produced a 7-3 record to pace the Spartans in doubles play.

Tech and USC Upstate have met just once in the past, with the Spartans taking a 4-2 decision in the 2010 season in a lengthy match played indoors at the Cookeville Indoor Tennis Center due to rain.

Belmont heads into the weekend riding a five-match winning streak. After posting a 2-8 record in non-conference contests, the Bruins are 5-0 in OVC play. Mauricio Antun, a junior from Brazil, leads Belmont. He has compiled an impressive 11-4 record at the No. 1 singles slot and teamed with Marko Lovrinovic, a senior from Coratia, to post a 10-0 mark at No. 1 doubles.

Tech owns a 12-7 advantage in the all-time series with Belmont, but the series has been fairly even in the past few years. The Golden Eagles were off to a 9-3 lead against the Bruins in the first dozen meetings. Belmont has won four of the past seven meetings, including a 4-2 contest last year in Paducah, Ky., that eliminated Tech from the OVC Tournament after the Golden Eagles had claimed a 5-2 win in Cookeville in the regular season. 

Tennessee State is 0-11 this season, including an 0-5 record against OVC foes. The Tigers host Jacksonville State Saturday before weloming the Golden Eagles Sunday afternoon. The Golden Eagles are 26-0 all-time against Tennessee State, winning all but three times by blanking the Tigers. TSU notched one win in losses in 1997 and 1998, and again in 2012.

The Golden Eagles are 3-11 overall and 2-3 in OVC matches, coming off a 4-3 win over Austin Peay last week. Sophomore Oleksiy Arovin leads Tech with a 12-2 record in dual matches in the No. 1 position, including a 5-0 record in the OVC. He comes into the weekend having won 11 consecutive matches to improve his overall singles record to 19-9 since September. Tech's top doubles team pairs up senior Vasily Eremeev and junior Artem Tarasov, producing a 6-5 record in dual matches in the No. 2 spot. Arovin and freshman Alberto Esteban are 5-4 in the No. 1 doubles post.