May 13, 2004
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2004 NCAA Regional Championships
May 15-16 * University of Kentucky * Lexington, Ky.
Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex
#16 TCU (16-6) vs. #67 East Tennessee State (20-5) * 1 p.m. CDT, May 15
#11 Kentucky (18-9) vs. Butler (15-6) * 10 a.m. CDT, May 15
The 16-6 and No. 16-ranked TCU Horned Frogs head to Lexington, Ky., for the 2004 NCAA Regional Championships hosted by the University of Kentucky. Joining the Frogs in the Bluegrass State are No. 11 Kentucky, No. 67 East Tennessee State and Butler. TCU takes on East Tennessee State (20-5), champions of the Southern Conference, in the first round May 15 at 1 p.m. CDT at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. The host Wildcats (18-9) face the champions of the Horizon League, Butler (15-6), in the opening round May 15 at 10 a.m. CDT. The winners square off at noon CDT May 16 for the right to compete at the NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Okla., over May 22-25.
THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
The round of 16 and beyond for the 2004 NCAA Tournament is being hosted by the University of Tulsa at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center over May 22-25. The singles and doubles participants for the individual championships have been selected, however, the draw will not be determined until Tuesday, May 25, following the team championship match. The 64-player singles and 32-team doubles tournaments take place over May 26-31 at the Case Tennis Center.
MENICHINI SELECTED FOR SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP
Senior Alex Menichini was chosen to participate in the 2004 NCAA Singles Championship. He is the first Horned Frog to compete in the event since 2001 when Trace Fielding played in the singles and doubles tournaments. Menichini is currently ranked No. 48 in the country. Esteban Carril is the only Frog to advance beyond the round of 16 in the singles championship. Carril made his run into the quarterfinals in 1999. Should Menichini win two matches in the tournament, he would assure himself All-America honors. Nineteen Horned Frogs have achieved All-America status, the last three of which came in 2001 when Carril earned his third in a row in singles and Fielding and Jimmy Haney received their first in doubles.
THE SERIES HISTORIES
TCU has little history with ETSU, Butler and Kentucky, having never faced the Buccaneers or Bulldogs. The Horned Frogs and Wildcats have five meetings and TCU owns a 4-1 edge. Two of their match-ups have come at national events in which the Frogs have made a run at the championship. The first came in the 1989 NCAA Tournament Round of 16 when the Purple and White made its unexpected run to the Final Four in Athens, Ga. The Horned Frogs won by a 5-2 tally and then proceeded to stun UCLA, 5-4, before falling to Georgia, 5-1, in the semis. TCU last faced Kentucky in the round of 16 at the 1992 National Team Indoor Championships and registered a 5-4 triumph. The Horned Frogs then upended UCLA, 4-2, and Notre Dame, 4-0, to make their only appearance in the championship match. The Purple and White was defeated by the Stanford Cardinal, 5-1, in the final.
A RICH NCAA HISTORY
The Horned Frogs have a rich tradition of excellence in the NCAA Tournament. TCU is making its 19th appearances in the event since the current team format was adopted in 1977. TCU has been a part of the past 14 tournaments and made 17 showings during the past 18 seasons. 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.
TCU is ranked 16th as a team. One Horned Frog, Alex Menichini, is ranked in the top-125 in singles in the ITA's poll at No. 48. Rafael Abreu and Fabrizio Sestini are ranked No. 36 in doubles. Kentucky sports a No. 11 rating and boasts two ranked singles competitors in Jesse Witten (6) and Tigran Martirosyan (94). The Wildcats' doubles team of Rahim Esmail and Witten is ranked 14th. East Tennessee State is ranked No. 67 and has no ranked individuals. Butler is unranked and has no ranked players on its roster.
TCU'S LAST TIME OUT
For the second year in row, the 17th-ranked TCU men's tennis team lost the title match of the Conference USA Championship to No. 18 Tulane by a 4-1 count. The Horned Frogs, seeded first for the tournament, fell to the second-seeded Green Wave, 4-2, in Milwaukee, Wis., in last year's final. This season's event was hosted by the University of Memphis at the HPER Courts. TCU stormed out of the gates with a couple of dominant wins in doubles to take the early 1-0 lead. Hector Almada and Jacopo Tezza scored an 8-4 victory from Alberto Sottocorno and Goran Vasiljevic at the No. 2 spot. Jacob Martin and Alex Menichini clinched it when they downed Jacobo Hernandez and Dmitriy Koch at three doubles, 8-3. TCU's 27th-rated tandem of Rafael Abreu and Fabrizio Sestini did not finish its match with No. 35-ranked David Goulet and Michael Kogan. Tulane came back at TCU with a fury in singles play. No. 13 Kogan won easily against 39th-rated Menichini at one in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, to tie the score up at one apiece. The Green Wave went ahead 2-1 when Hernandez beat Abreu at five, 6-3, 6-1. Sottocorno put Tulane within a point of clinching the championship after registering a 6-2, 7-6 triumph over Martin. Goulet finished off the Green Wave's come-from-behind when he ousted Tezza at the No. 4 slot, 6-4, 0-6, 6-3. The remaining matches at Nos. 2 and 3 were suspended following Goulet's victory. Almada was leading 79th-ranked Koch at two, 4-3, in a third set. Sestini was up 5-2 and serving for the match versus Ted Angelinos at three singles.
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.
ONE MORE FOR NO. 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 99-76 in his seven years of head coaching between TCU and Alabama. Rivé has also guided his squads to six consecutive NCAA appearances and is 8-5 in the tournament.
TCU CLEANS UP ON C-USA MONTHLY & WEEKLY AWARDS
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 2002 and 2003 seasons were a bit of a struggle. This season, the Horned Frogs have shown flashes of their old form and are 42-19 in dual matches. They have dropped only six doubles points this year. 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 then-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 National 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.
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.
2004 C-USA AWARDS
TCU tied a school record with five players earning postseason honors from Conference USA. Alex Menichini lead the way with his second straight C-USA First Team award. Hector Almada earned a spot on the second team, as did Fabrizio Sestini. For Sestini, it was his third consecutive appearance on the C-USA Second Team. He was named the Freshman of the Year in 2002 as well. Jacopo Tezza snagged a place on the third team, making the Horned Frogs the only squad in the league with players on all three all-conference teams. Jacob Martin and Menichini were tabbed the Doubles Team of the C-USA Championship by recording a 3-0 record during the event. Almada shared Singles Player of the C-USA Championship honors with Jacobo Hernandez from Tulane after going 2-0 and clinching two matches for TCU. Menichini also took home a C-USA Sportsmanship Award and the entire Horned Frog team received one as well. The award is meant for student-athletes, coaches or teams that perform an individual act of sporting behavior or generally conduct themselves with a high degree of good sportsmanship. TCU was the only squad in C-USA to pick up a Sportsmanship Award as a team.
ABOUT THE ITA RANKINGS
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 and the doubles went from a top-50 to a top-60. The singles and doubles are also determined by a computer ranking system. 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.