Men's Tennis Set to Open Fall Competition
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – An experienced group returns to the fold for the 2019-20 University of Miami men’s tennis team that reached the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive season in 2018-19.
Returning all nine student-athletes from last season’s squad that posted a 17-11 overall mark and a 7-5 record in ACC competition, the Hurricanes made a quartet of key additions for the dawn of fall competition.
Newly hired assistant coach Beck Pennington, volunteer assistant coach Niclas Genovese and student manager Christopher Hilton join Miami head coach Aljosa Piric on the sidelines, while Arizona State junior transfer Benjamin Hannestad will look to make his mark on the hard court.
With a pair of seniors (Dane Dunlap and Stephen Madonia), a sextet of juniors (William Grattan-Smith, Hannestad, Bojan Jankulovski, Pablo Aycart Joya, Tatsuki Shimamoto and Adria Soriano Barrera) and a duo of sophomores (Franco Aubone and Francisco Bastias), Piric is excited for what this season’s experienced group brings to the table.
“We are a veteran team. We have a couple of sophomores, but mainly we have a large group of juniors, along with a couple seniors,” Piric said. “I think these guys are ready to compete and build off of what we have done over the past couple of years.
“Overall, the fall for us is going to be about getting better. It is going to be about improving individually and then to also grow and continue to get tighter as a group,” Piric continued. “We have a really good group of guys, they want to be out here and they want to practice. They really want to get better together. So, I think it is going to be about getting better this fall and really giving it a go in the spring.”
Getting back into the swing of things once school returned to session, the Hurricanes have been preparing as a unit for a stacked fall slate that opens with a pair of tournaments beginning Friday.
“We have a couple of really good tournaments coming up, the [Farnsworth-Ivy Plus] and the Gamecock Ranked +1,” Piric said. “Our whole team is going to be competing at one of those two events and I am looking forward to the way the guys compete because we haven’t seen them compete in a while. And really, for us right now, it is just about seeing where the guys stack up. We know most of them are physically ready and they are excited to compete, but it is going to be really exciting to see where we are, starting the year out.”
Competing in Columbia, S.C., at the prestigious Gamecock Ranked +1 Invitational, No. 21 Soriano Barrera, No. 51 Jankulovski and No. 113 Bastias are set to open up their fall campaigns, while Aubone, Dunlap and Hannestad will join the trio in the Palmetto State.
The three-day event will kick off Friday morning at 9 a.m. with round of 16 singles competition, while doubles competition will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, with quarterfinal action.
Meanwhile, just over 600 miles north, Aycart Joya, Grattan-Smith, Madonia and Shimamoto will compete at the Fransworth-Ivy Plus, played at the Lenz Tennis Center in Princeton, N.J.
Overall, 80 players competing across five, 16-player, singles draws and five, eight pair, doubles draws, will open up the fall slate at 9 a.m. on Friday with a pair of doubles rounds, before singles hits off at noon. Action will resume Saturday morning at 9 a.m., with the final round of competition beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
With a week of practice in the books, Piric is excited to begin competition.
“It has been great to bring the guys out and be together,” Piric said. “A lot of guys have stayed here over the summer and took summer classes. So, we have seen a lot of them, but this [past] week has been really been the first week where we could go out and spend time as a team and get better.
“We have gone through our individual meetings, we have gone through our plans and now it is just about hitting the courts and getting better,” Piric said. “It is great to have the guys out here as a group. Everyone is ready, the guys are excited. It is a phenomenal group of guys so I am really looking forward to the year.”
To follow along this weekend, results will be updated for the Farnsworth-Ivy Plus tournament HERE, while up-to-date scores will be posted HERE for the Gamecock Invitational.