By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Senior Eduardo Mena is off to sunny Southern California to take aim in one of the most premier stages in collegiate tennis. The two-time OVC Player of the Year is one of just 32 players in the country to be invited to the Oracle ITA Masters, a four-day event hosted by the Malibu Racquet Club and Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
Now in its third year of existence, the single-elimination tournament kicks off Thursday with first-round action. Mena, seeded No. 23 out of 32 participants, will square off with Portland's Michail Pervolarakis, ranked 10th in the tourney's field, at Pepperdine University at 4 p.m. CT. The Mena-Pervolarakis victor will lock up with the winner of Alabama's Thibault Cancel (No. 7) and Western Michigan's Kennosuke Nouchi (No. 25) for second-round play on Friday. The quarterfinals are also Friday, while the semifinals will take place Saturday and the championship Sunday.
Mena, the nation's 33rd ranked player in the recently announced Oracle ITA Division I Men's Preseason National Rankings, earned the exclusive bid as the OVC's top-rated player. The Oracle ITA Masters chooses one player from each Division I conference, with wild card representatives filling in the remaining spots. Criteria similar to the NCAA Tournament selection process are used in determining the selections.
Mena is already off to a stellar start this fall, thanks to a strong showing in the Southern Intercollegiate Championships, hosted by the University of Georgia, Sept. 8-11. As the overall No. 4 seed, the Bultrago del Lozoya, Spain native received a first-round bye, before making it all the way to the quarterfinals with wins over Georgia's Alex Phillips and Walker Duncan.
Portland's Michail Pervolarakis is ranked No. 95 in the Oracle ITA Division I Men's Preseason National Rankings. The Limassol, Cyprus native became the first ever Pilot to take home West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors last spring, after going 17-3 in dual singles action.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information