Men’s tennis ready to climb national rankings

The No. 38 ranked TCU men’s tennis team opened its spring season Sunday with wins against UT-Pan American and UT Arlington. The Frogs are one of seven Mountain West Conference squads that appeared in preseason rankings.

The men’s team finished the 2009 season rated No. 38 after winning the Mountain West Conference’s regular season championship and advancing to the first round of the NCAA Championships.

Seven players from the team are returning, including juniors Emanuel Brighiu, Zach Nichols and Christopher Price, and sophomore Slah Mbarek, all regulars from TCU’s 2009 dual match lineup. Also returning this spring are senior Kelubia Mabatah, junior Cameron Nash and sophomore Paul Chappell. Three freshmen have been added this year: Santiago Centeno, Marius-Adrian Cirstea, and Soren Goritzka, a highly sought-after recruit from Germany.

Head coach Dave Borelli, in his fourth season leading the men’s program, said he would be disappointed if the team didn’t finish the season ranked higher than No. 38.
He said he thinks this year’s team is at least a top-30 program, calling his players “the hardest working, most accountable, smartest group of guys.”

“We’re a team people would not want to play,” Borelli said.

The TCU women’s team begins its season ranked No. 27 in the Campbell/Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll. The Lady Frogs also have a singles player and a pair of doubles squads listed in the national rankings. They are the highest ranked Mountain West Conference squad.

Head coach Jefferson Hammond and the 2010 team are looking to make their seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships this season after returning six players from last year’s MWC tournament title team. Returning players include senior captain Nina Munch-Soegaard, who finished last year ranked No. 22, juniors Maria Babanova, Idunn Hertzberg and Katariina Tuohimaa, and sophomores Kayla Duncan and Gaby Mastromarino. The Lady Frogs also welcome newcomer Shalini Sahoo of New Delhi, India.
Both teams will compete this weekend in the ITA Kickoff Weekend tournament.

The men’s team will face No. 58 Texas A&M Corpus Christi Saturday at 10 a.m. in Waco. If the Frogs win this game, they will face either No. 6 Baylor or No. 60 Iowa Sunday. The team that wins both of its matches during the weekend will advance to play in the ITA National Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va. February 12-15.

The women’s team begins its season today in Knoxville, Tenn. It will face No. 22 Vanderbilt. The team faces a tough dual match schedule, playing 16 NCAA qualifiers from 2009.