March 3, 2004
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HORNED FROGS' MATCH #9:
#5 TCU (8-0) vs. #49 SMU (5-5)
March 4, 2004 * Fort Worth, Texas * 2 p.m. CST
Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center * Tut Bartzen Varsity Tennis Courts
The No. 5 TCU Horned Frogs host No. 49 SMU Thursday, March 4, at 2 p.m. The match will be played on the Bernard J. "Tut" Bartzen Varsity Tennis Courts at the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center. The event begins with three doubles matches followed by Nos. 1-6 singles after a 10-minute intermission.
ABOUT THE MUSTANGS
SMU has 10 matches under its belt so far, going 5-5 in those contests. It opened the season with a 7-0 drubbing of Lamar and then suffered back-to-back 4-3 losses to Miami (Fla.) and Tulane. The Mustangs other victories came at the expense of Arkansas-Little Rock (5-2), Illinois-Chicago (7-0), South Alabama (4-2) and Virginia Tech (4-3). Their other three losses were to Texas (6-1), Notre Dame (5-2) and VCU (4-2).
TCU and SMU have a longstanding rivalry in many sports and men's tennis is no different. After dropping three in a row to the Ponies over two seasons in 2001 and 2002, the Horned Frogs recorded three triumphs against SMU last season. TCU won both regular season contests by 6-1 scores and then ousted the Mustangs in the first round of the NCAA Regional Tournament in Waco, 4-1. SMU still holds the historical edge on TCU with a 24-22 record since 1974.
TCU is ranked 5th as a team and SMU is 49th. One Horned Frog is currently ranked in the top-100 in singles in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's poll. Senior Alex Menichini is No. 22 in singles. Rafael Abreu and Fabrizio Sestini are rated No. 10 in doubles. SMU does not have any ranked players or doubles teams.
TCU'S LAST TIME OUT
The sixth-ranked TCU men's tennis team claimed the Conference USA Shootout title Sunday afternoon on the Tut Bartzen Varsity Tennis Courts at Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs defeated No. 56 Louisville, 4-0, in the championship match to run their record to a perfect 8-0. It marks TCU's best start since 1986 when the Frogs began the year 9-0. The Cardinals dropped to 6-6 on the year with the loss. The doubles went quickly, as TCU snagged 8-3 and 8-2 decisions at Nos. 1 and 3 doubles. Jacob Martin and Alex Menichini were the first to finish at three, defeating Javier Herrera and Damar Johnson. The No. 10-rated duo of Rafael Abreu and Fabrizio Sestini upended Jeremy Clark and Matt Mayer at the top slot. Hector Almada and Jacopo Tezza's match at two with the Cardinals' Jakob Gustafsson and Octavian Nicodim was suspended. TCU's doubles teams are 21-2 this season in dual matches. Sestini picked up an easy win at three versus Jhonny Berrido, 6-1, 6-2, to run his record to 13-5 and 7-1 in duals. The Frogs went up 3-0 when No. 22-ranked Menichini put away Mayer at one, 6-4, 6-3. Menichini trailed 3-1 in the second set before picking up five straight games en route to the victory. Martin provided the match clincher at six by coming from one set down to defeat Gustafsson, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
BACK TO OUR OLD FORM
The TCU men's tennis team ascended back into the nation's top-10 Feb. 24 coming in tied for sixth with Stanford. The following week, TCU returned to the top-5 at fifth. The No. 5 rating is the highest for TCU since the 2001 campaign when the Horned Frogs spent the entire year ranked in the top-10 and were as high as No. 2. They reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championships and finished 2001 rated fifth. Individually, senior Alex Menichini cracked the top-25 in singles at No. 22. He is the highest ranked player for TCU since Esteban Carril, who starred for the Purple and White from 1997-2001. Carril's best ranking was fourth during his senior year. Sophomore Rafael Abreu and junior Fabrizio Sestini came in at No. 10 in doubles, giving the Horned Frogs their first top-10 duo since Ashley Fisher and Jason Weir-Smith in 1997.
WE'RE MONEY AT THESE TWO
The Horned Frogs have been unbeatable so far at two singles positions. At No. 4, Jacopo Tezza has gone 6-0 and Rafael Abreu is 1-0. Jacob Martin has five wins at six singles and Robert Gallman has accounted for the other two.
RESTORING DOUBLES DOMINANCE
TCU has historically experienced a great deal of success in doubles, but the last two years have been a little bit of a struggle. This season, the Horned Frogs have returned to their old form and are 21-2 in dual matches. Two years ago, TCU was a mere 25-40 in doubles and last season the Frogs went 37-31. The biggest win this year came when Rafael Abreu and Fabrizio Sestini topped Texas A&M's tandem of Lester Cook and Ante Matijevic, 8-4. Cook and Matijevic were the No. 1-rated duo in the nation at the time. The win was critical, as it allowed TCU to win the doubles point, which proved to be the difference in the match.
WE NEEDED THAT ONE
After reaching the national semifinals and finishing the 2001 season with a ranking of fifth, the Horned Frogs went through a rebuilding phase the next year and ended 11-12. Last season, TCU dramatically improved and concluded the season at 16-9 and earned a final billing of 21st. With only one player gone from last season's squad, TCU is looking for a return to national prominence and it got a head start Feb. 15 by downing Texas A&M, which was ranked ninth. It was the Horned Frogs' first triumph versus a top-10 team since defeating the same Aggies in the quarterfinals of the 2001 NCAA Championships.
SOME NEW FACES
The Horned Frogs snagged a couple of new faces for the spring with the additions of Hector Almada and Tobias Virdhage. Almada played two seasons at Fresno State and one at Fresno City College prior to coming to Cowtown. He entered last fall ranked No. 6 in doubles and was 76th in singles. Virdhage, a native of Sweden, is a three-time Swedish national champion and boasts victories over some of the top players in the world, such as Daniel Klemetz, formerly of Middle Tennessee State. Klemetz won the 2002 ITA All-American Championships.
REPRESENTING THE WORLD
TCU's roster this season has six different countries represented. Besides the United States, the Horned Frogs have players from Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and Venezuela. The Frogs' Americans are senior Alex Menichini and freshmen Robert Gallman, Collin Hart, Craig Stopa, and Andrew Ulrich. Two Italians don the purple and white with juniors Fabrizio Sestini and Jacopo Tezza. The lone Mexican is senior Hector Almada and junior Jacob Martin hails from Spain. Freshman Tobias Virdhage is TCU's Swedish player.
Last fall, TCU cleaned up on the Conference USA monthly tennis award. For September, the recognition was given to Alex Menichini for reaching the semifinals of the Baylor Intercollegiates. He won three matches during the tourney and defeated one ranked player in Baylor's Matija Zgaga. He fell in the semis to the nation's then-No. 1 Benedikt Dorsch, also from Baylor. Fabrizio Sestini was awarded the accolade for October after he reached the quarters of the Midland Open and the ITA South Central Regional Championships. He also teamed up with Rafael Abreu to win the doubles title at the ITA Regional, allowing them to become the first TCUers to qualify for the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships since 1997. Menichini took home some more praise from C-USA when he was tabbed Athlete of the Week after TCU upended UTA and Colorado. He went 2-0 at one singles and three doubles with Jacob Martin that week. One week after Menichini got the award, Rafael Abreu took home the prize for TCU after winning critical matches against Texas A&M and Florida State.
BOTH ALMA MATERS GO DOWN
Assistant coach Cory Hubbard saw the TCUers down his alma mater Texas A&M Feb. 15 in Fort Worth, 4-3. Hubbard graduated from A&M in December 2000 with a degree in marketing after playing for the Aggies from 1996-2000. He was also a volunteer coach for A&M for a year. Head coach Joey Rivé escaped with a 4-3 victoy over Florida State Feb. 22, allowing the coaching staff to go undefeated this year against its alma maters. Rivé is a 1993 graduate of FSU with a Bachelor's degree in psychology. He is considered one of the great Seminoles in school history and was inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1999. He won 74 singles and 47 doubles matches during his time with FSU. His 33 singles victories in 1983 is still the second-most for a single season in school history. Rivé was also an assistant coach for the Seminoles for a year when he returned to finish his degree after playing on the ATP Tour.
A RICH NCAA HISTORY
The Horned Frogs have a rich tradition of excellence in the NCAA Tournament. TCU has made 18 appearances in the event since the current team format was adopted in 1977. TCU has been in every tourney since 1991 and made 16 of the past 17 NCAAs. The Purple and White owns a record of 23-18 in the tournament and has made three appearances (1989, 1996, 2001) in the national semifinals. TCU has also reached at least the NCAA quarterfinals on seven occasions (1982, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001). In the individual championships, TCU had a string of 26 consecutive appearances from 1976 to 2001. During that span, TCU won one doubles title, coming in 1981 with Karl Richter and David Pate. In 1996, Ashley Fisher and Jason Weir-Smith finished as the runner-ups. Several Horned Frogs reached the round of 16 in singles, but Esteban Carril is the only one to advance to the quarterfinals. Carril made his run his sophomore year in 1999.
NEW TEAM BUILDING DEDICATED
The new TCU Tennis Team Building was dedicated Jan. 30, 2004. The latest addition to TCU's assortment of facilities houses the men's and women's coaching staffs and provides locker rooms for the men and women. Other amenities in the complex include a spacious lounge area with a big screen television, a laundry and equipment room, a computer workstation for student-athletes and a racket stringing area. The building cost about $700,000 to construct and was finished last December after breaking ground in June.
TCU ADDS LIVE MATCH SCORING
TCU men's tennis will offer fans something this season with the addition of live match scoring via the Internet. It is featured on the official Web site of TCU athletics, www.GoFrogs.com. Updates from the match are given periodically as the players progress and the order of finish, along with match notes, are also available on the page.
ABOUT THE ITA RANKINGS
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association's team rankings will be released on a weekly basis beginning Feb. 24. The individual rankings for singles and doubles will be released biweekly starting Feb. 24. The rankings are determined by a vote of the ITA National Rankings Committee until March 23. On that date, rankings will be calculated using a computer formula. On April 6, the singles rankings will expand from a top-100 to a top-125. The doubles will go from a top-50 to a top-60. The final rankings for the season will be released June 4.