April 15, 2004
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2004 CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP
April 15-18 * University of Memphis
#17 TCU (14-5), #1 Seed, First-Round Bye
Face Winner of Charlotte-Southern Miss April 16 at 9 a.m. CDT
The 14-5 and No. 17-ranked TCU Horned Frogs head to the 2004 Conference USA Championship this week. Play starts April 15 and concludes April 18 at the HYPER Courts on the University of Memphis campus. The Horned Frogs received the No. 1 seed for the championship and have a bye in the first round. All 12 teams from the league compete in the event. The Frogs take on the winner of Charlotte and Southern Miss in the quarterfinals Friday, April 16, at 9 a.m. CDT on the A Courts.
TCU IN THE C-USA CHAMPIONSHIP
Now in its third year with Conference USA, TCU has yet to win a title in men's tennis. The Horned Frogs were the No. 1 seed heading into their first appearance in 2002, but fell in the semifinals to USF, 4-1. The Frogs downed Southern Miss by the same score in their first match. They went on to lose the third-place match with host Louisville by a 4-2 count. Last year, the Purple and White held the second seed and snagged a couple of wins to reach the championship match with No. 1-seeded Tulane. The Horned Frogs notched a 4-0 victory against UAB in the quarterfinals and beat USF 4-1 in the semis. The Green Wave registered a 4-2 triumph for the title.
TCU AND CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
TCU has 10 conference tournament titles to its credit all-time. Its first came in 1988 when coach Tut Bartzen's squad beat Arkansas 5-4 in Austin. The Horned Frogs duplicated the feat the following year against the same Razorbacks and went on to reach the NCAA Semifinals for the first time in school history. The Frogs snagged back-to-back Southwest Conference titles again in 1991 and 1992. The Purple and White closed out its stay in the league with three straight championships in 1994, 1995 and 1996. TCU made it four in a row with a Western Athletic Conference crown in 1997. The Frogs won four matches in four days, the last three of which were by 4-3 scores. TCU's final two years with the WAC resulted in conference championships in 2000 and 2001.
TCU is ranked 17th as a team. One Horned Frog, Alex Menichini, is ranked in the top-125 in singles in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's poll at No. 39. Rafael Abreu and Fabrizio Sestini are ranked No. 27 in doubles.
TCU'S LAST TIME OUT
The 12th-ranked TCU men's tennis team ended the 2004 regular season on a sour note Sunday in Dallas, falling to cross-town rival and 48th-rated SMU, 4-3. The Mustangs improved to 14-8 with the victory. The doubles point proved to be the difference in the match. Federico Murgier and Peter Oredsson claimed the first win at the No. 3 hole against Jacob Martin and Alex Menichini by an 8-4 tally. The No. 28 duo of Johan Brunstrom and Henrik Soderberg upended TCU's No. 27 pair of Rafael Abreu and Fabrizio Sestini, 8-5, to clinch the 1-0 lead. Before the start of singles play, TCU managed to snag one triumph at two doubles. Hector Almada and Jacopo Tezza came away with a 9-7 decision from Gwinyai Chingoka and Paul McNaughton. The Purple and White came back strong in singles winning three in a row for a 3-1 lead. Sestini got things rolling with a 6-4, 6-0 win versus Chingoka at the No. 3 slot and Almada followed with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Soderberg at two. Tezza snatched TCU's final point at four when he downed Lukasz Senczyszyn, 6-2, 6-4. The Ponies' Alex Skrypko picked up a 6-4, 7-5 win against Martin at the sixth position to close the gap to 3-2. Oredsson deadlocked the match when he dispatched Abreu at the No. 5 slot in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5. No. 39-ranked Menichini and No. 61 Brunstrom provided the fans with a thrilling finish. Menichini was able to win the first set by a 6-3 count, but Brunstrom responded by winning a tiebreaker in the second, 7-2. The third set belonged to Brunstrom thanks to a break of serve for the 6-4 win.
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 was 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 was 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.
COULD BE A SWEET 100
TCU coach Joey Rivé is closing in on the 100-win mark for his career and it could be a sweet one this weekend. Currently, he is 97-75 in his seven years of head coaching and should he win three matches at the Conference USA Championship it would mean TCU got the trophy. It would be their second under coach Rivé and their first since 2001.
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. Jacopo Tezza became TCU's third winner of the weekly accolade when he helped TCU defeat SMU, Washington and Pepperdine. Jacob Martin grabbed the honors for TCU for the fourth time of the spring after posting wins against Miami and Boise State. Hector Almada was recognized two weeks later after posting wins against Duke and Virginia.
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.
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 shown flashes of their old form and are 36-19 in dual matches. They have only dropped six doubles points this season. 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 and still hold the same billing. The win was critical, as it allowed TCU to win the doubles point, which proved to be the difference in the match.
WHAT A START
By knocking off No. 18 Pepperdine March 8, the Horned Frogs moved their record to 11-0, tying the 1981 squad for the best start in school history. The school record for longest winning streak is 16 matches coming in 1989 when TCU made its first appearance in the NCAA Semifinals.
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 and sophomore Rafael Abreu is Venezuelan.
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 at 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 the NCAA quarterfinals on seven occasions (1982, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001). In the individual championships, TCU had a string of 27 consecutive appearances from 1975-2001. 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 the run his sophomore year in 1999.
NEW TEAM BUILDING DEDICATED
The new TCU Tennis Team Building was dedicated Jan. 30, 2004. It 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 COMPLETES FIRST SEASON OF LIVE SCORING
TCU offered fans something new this season with the addition of live match scoring via the Internet. It was featured on the official Web site of TCU athletics, www.GoFrogs.com. Updates from the match were given periodically as the players progressed and the order of finish, along with match notes, were also available on the page.
ABOUT THE ITA RANKINGS
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association's team rankings are released on a weekly basis every Tuesday afternoon. The individual rankings for singles and doubles are released biweekly. The team rankings were determined by a vote of the ITA National Rankings Committee until March 23. Rankings are now calculated using a computer formula. On April 6, the singles rankings expanded from a top-100 to a top-125. The doubles went from a top-50 to a top-60. The final rankings will be released June 4.
TWO MATCHES CANCELLED IN 2004
TCU had a couple of matches cancelled this season. The first was at Texas Tech March 22 due to a scheduling conflict with both teams. The second was the Horned Frogs' final home contest against Louisiana-Lafayette April 7. ULL did not have enough healthy players to field a team for the match.