A Quick Huddle: AAC Men’s Tennis edition

Daisy Rymer | Sports Layout Editor

The Hullabaloo Sports section is back to keep Tulane students updated on all things American Athletic Conference with the newest installment of the online column ‘A Quick Huddle.’ This week get your rackets and polos ready – men’s tennis is taking the spotlight.

In addition to the Green Wave, there are nine men’s tennis teams in the AAC: University of Tulsa, University of Memphis, University of Central Florida, University of Connecticut, Southern Methodist University, Eastern Carolina University, University of Southern Florida, Temple University and Wichita State University.

After a historic end to last season, Tulane is looking to continue the trend this year. So far this fall, the Green Wave has competed in two tournaments. Junior Tim Ruetzel demonstrated Tulane is in it to win it with a perfect singles performance at the Alabama Invitational, held Sept. 14-16. At the University of Virginia Master’s Tournament this past weekend, sophomore Hamish Stewart had a phenomenal season debut, accomplishing an impressive victory against a top-100 opponent. Three Tulane players are nationally ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association: junior Ewan Moore at no. 60, senior Tyler Schick at no. 103, and Stewart at no. 121.

Tulsa started their season strong at the Ivy Plus Invitational held this weekend. After a solid day one, the Golden Hurricane brought home five singles victories on day two and were 1-1 in doubles matches on the last day. The team was not at its full strength, however, as senior Majed Kilani was absent. Kilani, currently ranked 39, traveled to Malibu, California to compete in the prestigious Oracle ITA Master’s Tournament. Despite a valiant effort, Kilani fell short in the singles draw as well as the consolation round. In addition to Kilani, Tulsa’s roster boasts another ranked player: no. 55 Joshua Goodger.

The men of Memphis also split for its opening weekend, sending players to both the Chattanooga Collegiate Clay Court Championships and the Crimson Tide Four-In-The-Fall tournaments, held Sept. 14-16. The Tigers dominated doubles in Chattanooga, Tennessee: the two teams sent from Memphis left as co-champions of the tournament. The freshmen pairing of Oscar Cutting and David Stevenson had similar success in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, capturing a flight win in doubles play. After a quick break, Memphis will be back Sept. 28 at the Short/LaLance Shootout.

UCF opened its season at the Southern Intercollegiate Championships, held Sept. 6-10. Sophomore Gabriel DeCamps breezed through the singles tournament, capturing the team’s first title of the season. Although their roster is young, the Knights are not to be underestimated this season; its four-man signing class of 2018 was ranked eighth in the country. This group includes freshman Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi, who was ranked no. 3 newcomer by the ITA. UCF will continue its season on Sept. 28 at the Bedford Cup, held in Orlando.

UConn’s performance at the Quinnipiac Invitational this weekend should have greatly pleased Head Coach Reinaldo Valor. A doubles title, brought home by senior Hank Hill and sophomore Yili Zheng, was the highlight of the most successful fall tournament the team has had under Valor. The coach also indicated that Brady Flanagan is one to keep an eye on after the Junior advanced to the singles final. The Huskies will head to Annapolis, Maryland next for the Joe Hunt Invitational, where it will hope to build upon the success of this tournament.

USF is looking for redemption this year after a bitter end to the season last spring. The team was defeated by the Green Wave, failing to capture the AAC crown for the first time since joining the conference. The Bulls opened its season at the John Breaux Cajun Tennis Classic this weekend, with freshmen Ivan Yatsuk and Chase Ferguson bringing home wins for the team. Leading the team this year will be senior Alberto Barroso-Campus, who is currently ranked no. 35. USF will join UCF at the Bedford cup on Sept. 28 to face their next opponents.

SMU and ECU competed at the Gamecock Fall Invitational at the University of South Carolina this weekend. Both teams struggled in the singles matches, with SMU only capturing wins in the consolation rounds and ECU unable to progress past the second round. SMU found more success in doubles play, with sophomores Jon-Simon Vrbsky and Tomas Vaise advancing to the Flight A semifinals.

Wichita State and Temple both await the beginning of their seasons. The Shockers of WSU have a fairly tough schedule ahead, facing 12 opponents that were nationally ranked last season, five of which were top-25 teams. Their season will begin Sept. 29 at the ITA All-American Championships. Temple, who finished last season with a 13-10 record, will join UConn this weekend to debut its season at the Navy Invite in Annapolis.

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