By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A trio of matches down in the Sunshine State is on the weekend docket for the Tennessee Tech tennis team. The Golden Eagle will glide south to Boca Raton, Fla. for a pair of contests on Saturday, Feb. 16 against Stetson at 7:30 a.m. CT and Florida Atlantic at 1 p.m., before closing out their brief stay with a Sunday meeting against DePaul, slated for 8 a.m.
Tech (1-4) is coming off a challenging twin bill on the courts against the No. 1 team in the nation and defending national champion, Wake Forest. TTU's two-match battle with the Demon Deacons on Feb. 10 marked the first time the Golden Eagles were spotted in action in 20 days.
Tech was upended in both affairs, falling 6-1 in the first clash and 7-0 in the second affair. Sophomore Gonzalo Garcia registered a singles win out of the No. 6 position in the day's first contest to account for TTU's lone point in the double dip. Garcia currently leads the purple and gold with two singles nods in the early stages this spring.
A look at Stetson
Coming off an 18-4 campaign a season ago, the Hatters (3-3) have split their first six matches with wins against Morgan State, Florida A&M and Florida Southern, and losses at Miami, Bethune-Cookman and South Florida.
Freshman Clement Hamel leads the squad with four singles wins, three of which have come out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Fellow rookie Louis Gorregues has spent the most time in the top position for the Hatters, posting a 2-2 mark from that slot in the lineup and a 3-3 overall singles ledger.
Saturday's meeting with Stetson will mark the fifth time the two schools have locked up. The clubs have split the previous four meetings with the Golden Eagles checking the win column in 1968 and 2006, and the Hatters claiming the last two gatherings with nods in 2007 and 2008.
A look at Florida Atlantic
Before greeting the Golden Eagles, the host Owls (5-5) will say hello to DePaul in a Saturday-morning matchup at 8 a.m. Although the weekend marks the home opener for Florida Atlantic, the squad has played all 10 of its matches in its home state, including five clashes against "Power 5" competition and two nationally-ranked teams in No. 20 Florida State on Jan. 13 and No. 4 Florida on Jan. 27.
Freshman Alvaro Fernandez Horta has paced the Owls with a 6-2 singles record, playing all eight of his matches out of the No. 6 slot in the lineup. Mehdi Laalej possesses a 5-1 spring singles mark, going 4-1 out of the No. 4 position and 1-0 out of the No. 5 spot. Ignacio Garcia and Jason Legall have proven to be the top doubles tandem for FAU, posting a 6-4 record all from the No. 1 part of the lineup.
The Golden Eagles have captured all three previous meetings in the battle of the birds with their Sunshine State counterparts. Tech won twice in 1994 and once in 1995.
A look at DePaul
After a 1-2 beginning, the Blue Demons (5-2) have rattled off four consecutive wins to enter the weekend as the hottest team among the quartet. Before battling Tech Sunday morning, DePaul will take aim against Florida Atlantic and Stetson on Saturday.
Junior Boris Spanjaard and freshman Vito Tonejc have rolled out a nice start to the season thanks to stellar play out of the top two positions. Spanjaard has a 5-2 singles record, going 3-2 out of the top spot and 2-0 out of the No. 2 position in the lineup, while Tonejc has compiled a 6-1 singles mark with a 2-0 record in the No. 1 slot and a 4-1 mark in the No. 2 position.
The two teams have met only once before, a DePaul 4-3 victory in Irvine, Calif. back in 1999.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information