The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC Fall Tennis Midseason Report

284 days ago
SEC Staff
Photo: Gamecock Athletics

The Southeastern Conference established new start dates and formats for fall tennis season, as the 14 members of the SEC continue to monitor developments related to COVID-19. SEC teams may compete in up to three team events beginning no earlier than October 1. Competition is limited to events involving only SEC members or non-conference teams from the geographic region of the SEC school.

As we hit the mid-point to the fall season, here is an update on all 27 teams.

Alabama men's tennis opened the 2020-21 season at the Tiger Fall Invitational in Auburn, Ala., at the Yarbrough Tennis Center. Day one saw five singles and one doubles victories. They notched a trio of wins on day two and notched 11 wins on day three, including eight singles and three doubles victories. Senior Riccardo Roberto went three-for-three in singles contests this weekend, culminating in a 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 win over Auburn's Jackson Ross. Overall, the Tide notched 15 singles and five doubles wins on the weekend.

Alabama's women's tennis opened the season hosting the SEC Challenge where the team notched seven wins over the three-day event. At the Hail State Classic, the Crimson Tide had 14 wins over two days. Anna Parkhomenko and Vanesa Nikolovova earned singles wins and combined to come away with Tide's lone doubles. Sydney Riley also came away with a singles win on Sunday. Parkhomenko and Nikolovova swept their singles matches on the weekend, while Riley won two-of-three.

The men's team's fall schedule included the Olivier Borsos Invitational hosted by LSU in early October and the Commodore Invitational in Nashville, Tenn. from Oct. 16-18. Arkansas picked up 15 wins both weekends of competition. The Razorbacks conclude the fall by hosting a USTA Tournament at the Billingsley Center during the first week of November. The Hogs return all six from their singles lineup in 2019, including senior Alex Reco who led Arkansas with the most singles wins the past two seasons. Reco has two straight-set wins this fall and teamed with Nico Rousset for another pair of wins in doubles action. Rousset picked up a straight-set win against Kentucky this past weekend and advanced to the semifinals of the Tiger draw at the Oli Borsos Invitational.

The women's team has had a successful fall season, having traveled to TCU and OU for tournaments and set to host the ITA Central Regional Championships, starting this Thursday (Oct. 22). In Fort Worth, freshman Indianna Spink swept her competition on the weekend, taking home three doubles wins with teammate Morgan Cross and three singles wins as well. On day two of the tournament, all three freshmen showed out against their competition in singles play. The following weekend, the Razorbacks traveled to Norman, Oklahoma for a two-day tournament hosted by the Sooners. Senior Martina Zerulo was undefeated in singles play on both days, earning the title of singles champion for the Razorbacks. Arkansas started off the weekend with a doubles win for freshmen-duo Indianna Spink and Morgan Cross. Day two in Norman yielded six wins in nine of the Razorbacks singles matches.

Freshman Tyler Stice was the overall singles winner and Auburn's tandem of Tad Maclean and Finn Murgett were the winners in doubles at the Vanderbilt Invitational October 16-18. During the weekend, Auburn posted 16 wins in singles and totaled six doubles victories in competition against Vanderbilt, Auburn, Arkansas and Kentucky at the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville. Stice and Jackson Ross were

the doubles champions of the Tiger Fall Invitational October 2-4 at Auburn; the pair went 3-0 in doubles action over the weekend against teams from Vanderbilt, Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss. The Tigers will finish the fall season November 6-8 at the UGA Invitational.

Auburn women competed at the Music City Scramble in Nashville in early October, earning 10 singles wins in the three-day event. Sophomore Selin Ovunc picked up where she left off after a stellar freshman season, going 3-0 in singles for the week in defeating opponents from Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Ole Miss. Three Auburn upperclassmen - graduate students Taylor Russo and Georgie Axon along with junior Yu Chen - all posted 2-1 singles marks for the week. Sophomore Carolyn Ansari picked up one singles victory, and Fresno State transfer Shir Azran made her Auburn debut. The Tigers are slated to play in two more fall events, Oct. 23-25 at Alabama and Oct. 30-Nov. 1 at Vanderbilt.

Florida men got off to a hot start to the fall season by recording a 30-9 overall record in the three day Tiger Fall Invitational on Oct. 2-4, which featured Southeastern Conference opponents Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Overall, the Gators went 24-3 in singles matches and 6-6 in doubles matches in its first team competition since March 8 at Texas A&M after the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. UF now travels to South Carolina on Oct. 23-25 for the Gamecock Fall SEC Shootout with fellow SEC schools Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Florida has added Ben Shelton, son of head coach Bryan Shelton, to an already impressive lineup for the 2020-21 season. The Gators return nine players this season, including team captains Sam Riffice and Duarte Vale.

Despite a limited roster, the Florida women achieved great success in its lone action of the fall season. Competing at the SEC Challenge alongside Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia and Mississippi State, the Gators were dominant in doubles, posting five wins compared to just one loss. The veteran tandem of Marlee Zein and McCartney Kessler posted an unblemished 3-0 record and claimed the tournament's doubles championship. On the singles circuit, Florida registered five victories. A pair of those wins came courtesy of freshman Sara Dahlstrom, who in addition to the success of UF's elder statesmen, played a key role in the team's production as she collected two singles wins and two doubles victories. UF capped off the weekend by winning all five of its matchups on Sunday against the Wildcats.

The Bulldogs' men's team had a successful start to the fall season at the Gamecock SEC Scramble in early October. 2020 ITA All-Americans Trent Bryde and Tyler Zink won the doubles title after boasting a perfect 3-0 record. In singles, Bryde capped off an undefeated opening weekend with three wins in his first event. Following action this week in Columbia, Georgia returns home to host Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss in the 53rd Annual Southern Intercollegiate Championships. Georgia returns five players from last season's starting lineup, including All-Americans Trent Bryde, Philip Henning and Tyler Zink to go along with Erik Grevelius and Blake Croyder. Croyder entered the fall campaign having won 17-straight dual singles matches dating back to the 2018-19 season. Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz is in his 33rd year at the helm of the Bulldogs' tennis program. Last season, he became the winningest coach in SEC history, passing his former coach and mentor Dan Magill. Diaz now has 709 career victories. Graduate transfer and former Vanderbilt star Billy Rowe joins the Bulldogs this season. In addition to his All-America status in doubles, Rowe boasts a career-high doubles ranking of No. 4 nationally and a singles mark of No. 62.

The Georgia women's tennis team is set to host their third and final fall competition of the 2020 fall season with the Bulldog Invitational at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex Oct. 23-25. Over the course of the

first two competitions, three Bulldogs are unbeaten. Senior Marta Gonzalez, junior Katarina Jokic and sophomore Meg Kowalski are all 6-0 in singles over six days of competition. Georgia began their first event at the SEC Challenge hosted by Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Over a series of three days, Georgia compiled 20 singles wins and 10 doubles wins against Kentucky, a conjoined team of Mississippi State and Florida and Alabama. Katarina Jokic was named the SEC Challenge singles champion. In the second competition of the season, Georgia headed to Knoxville, Tenn. to partake in the UT Fall Invite with South Carolina, Vanderbilt and the Volunteers. The Bulldogs earned eight doubles wins and 16 singles wins over the course of the weekend. Overall, the Bulldogs are 18-3 in doubles play and 36-9 in singles.

Kentucky men's tennis continued its fall 2020 slate against Auburn, Arkansas and host Vanderbilt at the Commodore Invitational last weekend after opening the season against Georgia, Tennessee and host South Carolina at the Gamecock Fall SEC Scramble on Oct. 2-4. At the Commodore Invitational, Kentucky picked up 18 wins behind contributions from all eight competing Wildcats. Sophomore Gabriel Diallo and freshman Joshua Lapadat were each a perfect 3-0 on the singles court, while senior Millen Hurrion won back-to-back contests in the No. 1 slot. Kentucky ended its weekend with a nearly perfect day versus Vanderbilt, claiming six of seven matchups across doubles and singles play. The Cats will complete the fall alongside Vanderbilt, LSU and the host Crimson Tide at the Alabama Four-In-The-Fall on Nov. 6-8. Fifth-year senior César Bourgois and sophomore Liam Draxl, who competed as the top singles player during his freshman campaign, will rejoin Kentucky next spring.

The University of Kentucky women's tennis team concluded its first fall tournament of the season with the Wildcats recording 12 wins throughout the weekend, claiming eight of 22 singles matches and four of 12 doubles matches. Two freshmen - Salsa Aher and Elizabeth Stevens - competed in their first collegiate tournament ever, meanwhile facing some of the strongest teams in the nation including host Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi State. From Pune, India, Aher was the solo UK player to earn a victory on the opening day of the tournament, carding a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 defeat over Georgia's Alee Clayton. The newcomer went on to record another singles win on Sunday, defeating Alabama's Sydney Orefice in rapid 6-2, 6-3 decision. Aher and Akvile Paražinskaite were the only two UK players to win at least two singles matches, while Lesedi Jacobs and Anastasia Tkachenko were the only two UK players to win at least two doubles matches.

The LSU men's tennis team kicked off the SEC fall season by hosting the Olivier Borsos Invitational. The Tigers secured the doubles crown as Rafael Wagner and Ronald Hohmann defeated their LSU counterpart, Boris Kozlov and Nick Watson, 8-5. the Tigers struggled in singles and Chris Brandi knows that the team is a work in progress. "We have a lot to work on. We have a lot of young guys and we're an inexperienced bunch. It showed this weekend but it's time to get to work over the next three months, especially in singles. We can fight to get in the mix with the nation's best," Brandi said.

The LSU women's team enjoyed a successful weekend at the Texas A&M Fall Invite. Senior Paris Corley led the team in singles action, posting a perfect 3-0 record against players from Rice, Texas, and Texas Tech to take her win total to five, a team high. Fellow seniors Taylor Bridges and Eden Richardson also had success, earning wins in singles and doubles competition. Junior Anna Loughlan picked up her first wins of the season in singles play against opponents from Texas State. Loughlan also picked up her first win in doubles play, partnering with Richardson in a 6-2 win. The sophomore trio of Safiya Carrington, Maggie Cubitt, and Nina Geissler have picked up thirteen wins in singles and doubles competition this

fall. Freshman Samantha Buyckx has had a successful start to her collegiate career, picking up three singles and four doubles win in her first two tournaments.

Ole Miss
Ole Miss men's have gone 4-2 in doubles in the fall. Tim Sandkaulen leads the team with four wins (2-1 in both singles and doubles). Only four Ole Miss men's tennis student-athletes are in competition during the fall season. Stepping-up for the Rebels, Cotter Wilson earned two singles wins at the Auburn Invite.

The women's team has had a strong start to the 2020 season. The Rebels are 14-6 in doubles. The Rebels' top duo of Alexa Bortles and Sabina Machalova enter this weekend with a 5-1 record. Pairing with two different teammates, Tiphanie Fiquet also has a 5-1 record in doubles. The Rebels have set the tone for tournaments through outstanding opening doubles play

Mississippi State
Mississippi State men's tennis opened the fall campaign on Oct. 2-4 in Baton Rouge, LA. at the LSU Invite. The Bulldogs went a combined 13-13 in singles, and 6-6 in doubles. Leading the way for the Maroon and White would be Gregor Ramskogler, Nicolas Ocana, and Davide Tortora who all went 3-1 in singles play. In doubles, Florian Broska and Nicolas Ocana lead the Bulldogs, going 3-1. This weekend, Oct 23-25th, the Bulldogs host the Bulldog Challenge at home. The Bulldogs will conclude fall play at the Volunteer Showdown on Nov. 6-8.

Mississippi State women's tennis holds a 22-12 overall record (15-8 singles, 7-4 doubles) after two events this fall. To open the 2020 fall slate, MSU compiled an 11-8 ledger at the SEC Challenge #1 in Tuscaloosa. Freshman Marta Falceto led State that weekend, going 4-1 overall. State then returned home to host the Hail State Classic. Senior transfer Lilian Poling went a perfect 6-0 in her first-ever home matches as a Bulldog, leading MSU to an 11-4 mark overall in the event. State recorded a perfect 6-0 record on the final day of the tournament, which was the first fall tennis event MSU had hosted on campus in over 25 years. The event also saw the first official matches ever played in the Rula Tennis Pavilion, MSU's new six-court indoor facility. Poling currently leads the team with a 9-3 overall record (5-1 singles, 4-2 doubles) and has won her last seven matches combined. Freshman Alexandra Mikhailuk owns a team-best 5-1 ledger in doubles, pairing with Marta Falceto and Poling in the first two events of the semester.

Mizzou Tennis will open the 2020 fall season at the ITA Central Regional, held Oct. 23-25 in Fayetteville, Ark. The singles and doubles tournament features teams from the central regional. The Tigers doubleheader against Central Arkansas had been postponed due to COVID-19 related issues. It's been rescheduled for Friday, Oct. 30.

South Carolina
South Carolina brings seven letterwinners back for its 2020-21 season, led by a pair of juniors who finished last season in the national rankings of both singles and doubles. Raphael Lambling and Daniel Rodrigues closed their sophomore seasons ranked No. 45 and 46, respectively, in singles; and the duo formed the No. 30 doubles team in the country. Senior Thomas Brown will continue to provide leadership and steady performances to the lineup, while Beau Pelletier is poised to make significant contributions in his junior year. Sophomore Connor Thomson has picked up this season right where he left off his freshman campaign, which saw him deliver a 24-7 singles record, including a 10-2 mark in dual matches and three SEC dual-match victories. A trio of freshmen joined head coach Josh Goffi's team

with Carter Morgan and Toby Samuel getting their first taste of college action in October and Bruno Oliveira reaching the doubles final at the 2020 Roland Garros Junior Championships.

The Gamecocks' women's tennis team has one fall event under its belt after competing in the UT Fall Invite over Oct. 16-18 in Knoxville, Tenn. Mia Horvit and Megan Davies paced South Carolina at the event by each posting 2-1 singles records while also going 2-1 together in doubles. With 88 career singles victories, Horvit is poised to become just the 10th Gamecock in school history to eclipse the 90-win plateau. Emma Shelton and Elise Mills also registered singles victories at an event that featured some of the SEC's best in Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia. Newcomers Lindsay Tulenko and Corina Spasojevic picked up their first wins as Gamecocks by teaming up for doubles against a Tennessee duo. Shelton and Silvia Chinellato also posted a win in doubles over Vanderbilt. South Carolina next competes at an event hosted by Georgia over Oct. 23-25 in Athens, Ga.

The Vols got their Fall campaign off to a flying start at the Gamecock Invitational, claiming victories in 24-of-36 total matches. The weekend was highlighted by a trio of UT players finishing with unblemished 3-0 ledgers in singles play. Graduate student Giles Hussey rolled all weekend, gathering all three of his wins in straight sets and dropping just five total games in his victories over Georgia's Erik Grevelius (6-1, 6-4) and Kentucky's Jonathan Sorbo (6-0, 6-0) on Saturday and Sunday. Junior Pat Harper battled through his opening match to earn a three-set win over South Carolina's Toby Samuel, 0-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, before breezing past Georgia's Blake Croyder (6-2, 7-5) and Kentucky's Alexandre LeBlanc (6-3, 6-3). In his collegiate debut, freshman Josh Raab also dropped just a single set on his way two three victories, taking down South Carolina's Carter Morgan (6-2, 6-4), Georgia's Britton Johnston (4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) and Kentucky's Heman Nama (8-4). Grad student Luca Wiedenman was also special at South Carolina, breaking into the top-20 for career singles victories with his 84th and 85th singles victories.

The Lady Vols competed in the Music City Scramble, hosted by Vanderbilt. Newcomer Daria Kuczer paced the team in singles play while several doubles parings found their groove. Kuczer, a junior transfer by way of Pepperdine, opened her Lady Vol career with a perfect 3-0 mark. The Szczecin, Poland native won all three of her matches in straight sets in Nashville. Senior Johanna Silva and sophomore Callie Creath went undefeated as a doubles duo in the Music City Invitational. The pair won three matches last weekend to open the fall and are 4-0 as a pair all-time. After falling in their first doubles match as a duo, senior Tenika McGiffin and freshman Esther Adeshina closed out the Nashville trip with a pair of wins to open the fall with a 2-1 record. The team opened the UT Fall Invite, winning 3-of-4 doubles matches against South Carolina. After collecting one singles win in the opening day of the UT Fall Invite, the Lady Vols bounced back with four wins on day two and five wins on day three.

Texas A&M
Texas A&M men's tennis is already off to a red-hot start in fall tournament play following exceptional showings in the Olivier Borsos Invite at LSU and the TCU Invitational. Through two tournaments, A&M student-athletes have clinched every singles title, with Noah Schachter earning the individual crown at TCU, as well as a victory in his draw at the Olivier Borsos Invite. Juan Carlos Aguilar and Hady Habib each secured singles titles in their respective draws at LSU. National standout Valentin Vacherot returns to Aggieland for his final season in Maroon & White following an extraordinary 26-4 singles record last year. The Aggies' doubles teams have already secured 18 wins through the first two fall tournaments, headlined by an undefeated 6-0 showing at the TCU Invitational. Head coach Steve Denton welcomes freshman Raphael Perot, as well as transfers Anish Sriniketh and Bjorn Thomson to an already talented roster. A&M turns its attention to a still-jam-packed fall tournament schedule, including stops at the ITA

Texas Regional in Waco, Texas, the Gamecock Fall Shootout in Columbia, S.C., and finishing with the Oracle ITA Circuit Presented by UTR in Bryan-College Station.

After a seven-month hiatus from play, Texas A&M women's tennis returned to the courts last weekend hosting student-athletes from LSU, Rice, Texas, Texas State, and Texas Tech in the Texas A&M Fall Invite. The Aggies posted 20 overall victories, including 12 wins in singles and eight in the doubles competition. All six competitors from A&M earned at least two victories in both singles and doubles play, with the doubles team of Tatiana Makarova and Jessica Anzo going a perfect 3-0 over the weekend. Following an abbreviated, but stellar 20-5 singles record last season, Makarova made her presence known at the first tournament of the fall, recording straight-set wins over Michaela Haet of Rice and Safiya Carrington of SEC-rival LSU. The Maroon & White welcome one newcomer into the fold this season, with freshman Elise Robbins already showing signs of promise with two singles wins and two doubles wins at the A&M Fall Invite. The Aggies will host two of their remaining three tournaments, including the Aggie Halloween Classic (Oct. 30-Nov. 1) and the Oracle ITA Fall Circuit Powered by UTR (Nov. 13-16). Tournament action is set to conclude with the TCU Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas on Jan. 8-10, 2021.

Vanderbilt men opened the 2020 fall season with a strong showing at the Auburn Invitational with four Dores each picking up a pair of singles victories. Throughout the weekend, George Harwell, Max Freeman, Connor Robb-Wilcox and James Ignatowich each won two matches while Harwell and doubles partner Adam Sraberg earned a pair of victories. Along the way, Harwell earned straight-set singles wins over Alabama's Gabriel Diaz Freiere and Auburn's Tad Maclean while also earning doubles wins over opponents from Alabama and Florida. Hosting its home tournament last weekend, the Commodores had a strong first day against Arkansas in winning four singles matches and three of the four doubles decisions. Two of Vanderbilt's top singles athletes - Freeman and Marcus Ferreira - each defeated their Razorback opponents with 6-3, 6-1 lines while Ignatowich and Joubert Klopper both also earned tight victories. Marcus Ferreira led Vandy with a pair of singles wins throughout the three-day event.

Vanderbilt's first-year duo have made a name for themselves throughout the first two fall events of 2020 with Anessa Lee winning four of her six singles matches - all in straight sets - and Holly Staff winning three matches while battling through three sets in each of her wins to date. In the opening tournament of the year, Emma Kurtz paced Vandy with three victories over opponents from Tennessee and Ole Miss while Staff, Lee and Marcella Cruz all earned two wins on opening weekend. Last week at the UT Fall Invite, Amanda Meyer posted a perfect weekend against opponents from South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee while Lee also picked up two more victories against her Gamecock and Bulldog foes. In doubles action at the UT Fall Invite, duos of Kurtz and Staff and Meyer and Dasha Kourkina also posted strong Saturdays with a pair of doubles wins. Thus far to go with her three singles wins, Staff has won four of her five doubles matches and holds an overall collegiate record of 7-4.