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Raiders open up spring slate vs. Chattanooga

New faces, challenging schedule for MT in 2014

January 16, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee men's tennis team opens up its spring 2014 season on Saturday, hosting Chattanooga at 10 a.m. at Nashboro Village to begin the road to the 2014 Conference USA Championship in Tulsa, Okla.

The Blue Raiders open the spring slate ranked No. 50 in the nation in the ITA rankings, with two MT players garnering preseason rankings. Sophomore David Fox sits at No. 98 in singles rankings, while joining fellow second-year Blue Raider Victor Cornea at No. 22 in doubles.

"We are looking forward to getting our season started," said head men's tennis coach Jimmy Borendame. "I am looking forward to finding the right doubles combinations, along with getting the new guys some matches and starting their careers off on the right foot."

The spring roster features three new Blue Raiders from a year ago, including two joining the team this semester. Nashville native Aaron Jumonville competed for MT last fall, while Arkansas junior transfer Victor Hoang and New Zealand-born freshman Sam Matheson joined the team in January. Returning from a year ago are senior Ben Davis, juniors Yannick Born and Ettore Zito, along with the sophomore duo of Cornea and Fox.

"Victor and Sam have been very solid so far in practice; I am very pleased with their level," Borendame said. "I expect them to only get better as the season goes on. Sam has a very well-rounded game and a ton of potential to get even better. Victor might look little, but he packs a serious punch when he is on the court. He gets loud and has been a great team guy already. I am very excited about having these new guys on the team."

Matches played through Feb. 17 will feature the ITA's new experimental format, with the following rules put in place:

- The dual meet will consist of three doubles matches played first (worth a total of one point), followed by six singles matches, each individual match worth one point. Four points are required to win the team match.

- The three doubles matches will each consist of one set to 6, with no-ad scoring and a tie-breaker at 5-all. Once a team has won two doubles matches, the remaining doubles match shall not be completed.

- Six singles matches will follow the doubles. Each singles match is two out of three sets, with each set using no-ad scoring, and a tie-breaker at 5-all in each set.

- All singles matches will be played to completion unless both coaches agree to do otherwise, with the exception of the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 25-26. In that event, the "clinch" rule will be in effect.

"The new experimental ITA format will be interesting for both teams and it will take some time to get used to," Borendame said. "I am curious to see how it goes."

MT faces a challenging spring slate, squaring off with 13 teams in the ITA preseason top-75 on the way to the Conference USA Championship. Following Saturday's match vs. Chattanooga, the Blue Raiders travel to the Buckeye State, facing No. 48 Louisville on Jan. 25 in Columbus before taking on either hosting No. 5 Ohio State or No. 57 Denver.

February opens up in the Palmetto State, as MT takes on No. 18 South Carolina on Feb. 2. A week later, the Blue Raiders make the short trip to Nashville for an in-state showdown with No. 16 Vanderbilt. The road slate continues on Thursday, Feb. 14, with a match in Richmond, Va. against No. 31 VCU.

Two days later, the Blue Raiders return home to face a pair of foes in Tennessee State and No. 32 Northwestern. After a 12-day break, MT will travel to upstate New York for a match at No. 53 Cornell on Feb. 28 before going to New York City to take on No. 42 Columbia.

The Blue Raiders will return home for matches against Jackson State (March 7) and No. 21 Memphis (March 9), before traveling to No. 39 TCU (March 15). MT will then host Austin Peay on March 20, before traveling to Louisville, Ky. for a second match against the Cardinals. The Blue Raiders will then return home for the Middle Tennessee Shootout from March 28-30.

April begins with a trip to Idaho, facing No. 46 Boise State (April 5) and Utah State (April 6). The Blue Raiders then return home to close out the regular season against No. 70 USF (April 11) and UCF (April 13).

From there, Middle Tennessee travels to Tulsa, Okla., for the 2014 Conference USA Championship, hosted by Tulsa. NCAA regionals begin on May 9.

Live stats will be available for all home matches in 2014, along with Twitter updates @MT_MensTennis.

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