Men's Tennis: Ragin' Cajuns Set To Open Spring Season At Florida State Invitational
RAGIN’ CAJUNS SET TO OPEN SPRING SEASON AT FLORIDA STATE INVITATIONAL
LAFAYETTE – Coming off a 17-11 record in 2016, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns men’s tennis team opens its 2017 spring campaign on Saturday when it travels to Tallahassee, Fla., to compete in the FSU Spring Tournament.
Louisiana, which returns five letterwinners for ninth-year coach Mark Jeffrey, opens the season against host Florida State on Saturday at 8 a.m., CST before facing FAU or South Alabama in the second round.
“I like that fact that we’re starting up against Florida State, one of the top 30 programs in the country,” Jeffrey said. “That’s going to give us a gauge early on about where we are. After we play them, we’ll see where everything goes. We have some home matches that will be good for us and will give our guys a chance to get their feet wet before we take on a much tougher schedule in February.”
After opening the season at FSU, Louisiana will return home for 10 consecutive matches beginning with a Jan. 20 doubleheader against Jackson State. The Ragin’ Cajuns will host Alcorn State (Jan. 22) and Xavier (Jan. 28) in doubleheaders, Incarnate Word on Feb. 4 before closing out the homestand against Georgia State (Feb. 10), UTSA (Feb. 18) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Feb. 24).
Louisiana will compete in the HEB Invitational in Corpus Christi, Texas, March 3-4, before playing a string of three straight matches against schools from the Ivy League – at home against Penn (March 8), and road matches at Harvard (March 24) and Brown (March 25).
“The schedule is going to showcase about 10-12 nationally-ranked teams,” Jeffrey said. “The goals for our team are the same for every single team that I bring in and that’s to win the Sun Belt (Conference), to go undefeated at home, to be able to qualify for the (NCAA) Sweet 16 at nationals and to maintain our grade point average in the classroom.”
Returning All-Sun Belt Conference selections Arthur Libaud, who went 12-5 in singles play in 2016, and Eric Perez, who combined for 27 wins between singles and doubles, will look to provide leadership to a group that includes four freshmen. Junior Vlad Kramarov, Coleman Wahlborg and Michael Kritzinger also return for the Ragin’ Cajuns after combining for 22 wins in singles play.
“For the first time in program history, the guys stayed in town over the winter break and they’ve been practicing hard for the last 3-4 weeks,” Jeffrey said. “We’re definitely not going to have any teams catch us early on in the season from lack of preparation. We’re looking forward to getting off to a good start.”
Rounding out Louisiana’s squad are freshmen Silvio Cocito-Monoc, Pearse Dolan and Jamie Fraser, who all competed in the fall, and Brazilian Elio Lago, who joined the team in January..
“For the new guys … it’s always a developing stage,” Jeffrey said. “(Freshman) Jamie Fraser has really come on strong from the fall. We’ve made some tweaks with his game and he’s playing much better than he did in the fall. He’s competing at a really good level right away. Pearse Dolan, he was probably at a pretty high level coming in right away. He still needs to get up in a couple of levels and I see him eventually playing top-three.
“Elio coming in will help give us a spark and Silvio comes in as the No. 1-ranked player in Louisiana and he’s had a great winter and wouldn’t be surprised for him to make the top six.”
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