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

SEC Fall Tennis Midseason Report

52 days ago
SEC Staff
Photo: SEC Staff

The Crimson Tide men's squad is 12 strong this season, with a very veteran lineup that includes five graduate students, two redshirt seniors, three seniors and two sophomores. After opening the three-tournament, SEC-only fall season with road weekends for its first two outings, Alabama closed at home with its Four-In-The-Fall event. The Crimson Tide went 32-10 on the weekend, with Jeremy Gschwendtner, Alexey Nesterov, Vincent Rettke and Riccardo Roberto all going 3-0 in singles, while the doubles tandem of Sam Fischer and Nesterov went undefeated at 3-0. Gschwendtner and Rettke also went undefeated in doubles, playing with different partners during the weekend. Gschwendtner and Nesterov were co-champions of the tourney's Houndstooth Draw, while Rettke and Roberto were champs of the Crimson Draw. In doubles, Fischer and Nesterov were champions of the Houndstooth Draw while Gschwendtner and Rettke were champions of the Crimson Draw. The Alabama men also inked a trio of newcomers for next season, in the earlysigning period, including Enzo Aguiard, Zach Foster and Filip Planinsek.

The Alabama women's squad was made up of nine players this fall, including two graduate players, a senior, two sophomores and four freshmen. All nine played in the fall during a three-tournament, SEC-only slate that included two weekends in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide closed out the fall at home with the SEC Challenge No. 2, where Isabella Harvison notched both a singles and doubles win during the tourney's final day, while rookie Anna Parkhomenko went to 1-0 against in-state rival Auburn in singles, winning the last match of the day. Anne Marie Hiser also picked up a win against the Tigers. Harvison also teamed with Sydney Riley for a doubles victory on the final day of fall play. During the first week of December, the Tide also announced the addition of Loudmilla Bencheikh to its 2021 roster. The Paris, France, native will join Alabama for the spring semester.

The Razorbacks traveled to Baton Rouge, La. and Nashville, Tenn. for the Oli Borsos Invite and Commodore Invitational, respectively, this fall. Arkansas picked up 14 wins at the event hosted by LSU, highlighted by a run to the semifinals of the Tiger Draw by Nico Rousset. On the second day of the Commodore Invitational the Razorbacks split 12 matches with the Kentucky Wildcats, taking three of the four doubles matches. Hunter Harrison helped lead the Hogs with four singles wins in fallcompetition. Harrison also teamed with Maxim Verboven to go 4-2 in doubles.

The women's team had a successful fall season, having traveled to TCU and OU for tournaments and hosting the ITA Central Regional Championships. In Fort Worth, freshman Indianna Spink swept her competition on the weekend, taking home threedoubles 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, Oklahomafor 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 ofthe 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 finished the fall season in November at the UGA Invitational, where Auburn posted five wins in singles and two doubles victories in competition against Florida and Ole Miss.

The Auburn Tigers put together a successful fall season, competing in three tournaments against conference opponents in October and November. The Tigers went 31-24 overall in singles and 10-16 in doubles play as seven student-athletes saw action. Sophomore Selin Ovunc led the way in singles with a 5-1 record after competing in two events. Junior Yu Chen went 7-2 in singles, while grad students Taylor Russo and Georgie Axon posted records of 5-2 and 6-3, respectively. In doubles, Auburn mixed and matched its pairings throughout the fall to varying degrees of success. The team of Yu Chen and Carolyn Ansari had the most success, going 3-0 for the fall. Axon and freshman Adeline Flach played together the most, putting together a 4-2 record.

Florida swept Ole Miss on the final day of the Southern intercollegiate Championships, which served as the Gators final match of the fall schedule. The Gators went 7-0 on the day, with a 5-0 mark in singles and a 2-0 mark in doubles. Overall for the tournament, UF posted an impressive 28-6 record by going 19-3 in singles and 9-3 in doubles. Florida closed out the fall with a 78-22 record overall, a 58-10 mark in singles and a 20-12 doubles record. The Gators will now begin preparations for the spring season, which was cut short in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Really proud of our guys for how well they represented the Gators throughout the fall," head coach Bryan Shelton said. "We have a lot to be thankful for and look forward to continuing the work we are doing together. I know the best is yet to come."

In the abbreviated fall campaign the Gators competed in just two events, the Bulldog Invitational and the SEC Challenge, but found tremendous success in both. Sydney Berlin led the way with a 5-1 record while two-time All-SEC performer McCartney Kessler finished a perfect 3-0. Kessler posted a noteworthy victory when she defeated the nation's former No. 1 player Katrina Jokic of Georgia. Kessler and fellow upperclassmen Marlee Zein paced Florida with a 4-1 mark in doubles. Freshman Sara Dahlstrom won two of her first three singles matches and finished the fall with four doubles victories. The Gators, who return five from last season's team and welcome a pair of newcomers, compiled a 13-7 record in singles and an 8-4 mark in doubles for the fall portion of the campaign.

After returning five players from last season's starting lineup, the Bulldogshad 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. During the team's final road event of the fall season in Columbia, S.C., graduate transfer and former Vanderbilt star Billy Rowe grabbed his first wins as a Georgia Bulldog. His doubles winning streak continued into Georgia's final event in November at home, where the Bulldogs played host of the 53rd Annual Southern Intercollegiate Championships. Rowe will enter the season 4-0 in doubles. Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz is now in his 33rd year at the helm ofthe Bulldogs' tennis program. Last season, he became the winningest coach in SEC history, passing his former coach and mentor Dan Magill. Diaz enters the 2021 dual season with 709 career victories.

The Georgia women's tennis team competed in three competitions for the 2020 fall season. 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 thesecond competition of the season, the team 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. The final competition of the fall was held at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex and hosted Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky for a weekend of matches. Georgia compiled 20 singles wins and six doubles wins adding to a combined total of 55 singles wins and 24 doubles wins over the three sessions. Meg Kowalski and Marta Gonzalez both saw undefeated fall seasons going 9-0 against their respective opponents. The duo of Elena Christofi and Morgan Coppoc went 5-1,the best record of any duo.

The University of Kentucky men's tennis team concluded its fall 2020 slate against Auburn, Arkansas and host Vanderbilt at the Commodore Invitational on Oct. 16-18 after opening the season against Georgia, Tennessee and host South Carolina at theGamecock 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 the competition with a nearly perfect day versus Vanderbilt, claiming six of seven matchups across doubles and singles play. 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 competed in three tournaments this fall, including the SEC Challenge, Bulldog Invitational and June Stewart Invitational, sporting a 12-person roster that featured five newcomers and seven returners. Elizabeth Stevens was the only newcomer to make an appearance at all three tournaments, recording a 3-5 singles record in her collegiate debut, and even more impressive, a 5-3 doubles record. In the second tournament at the Bulldog Invitational, she competed in six matches that weekend, recording the most wins of anyone on Kentucky's team - two singles matches, two doubles matches. The rookie from Oregon also managed to deliver a win over an opponent from all three teams competing at the Bulldog Invitational - Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Fiona Arrese is another freshman that turned heads during fall action, when she recorded a 4-1 doubles record in just two tournaments. Senior Lesedi Jacobs, Kentucky No. 1 singles player from 2019-20, traveled to two tournaments this fall, earning a 2-3 singles record and a 2-1 doubles record paired with Anastasia Tkachenko. The SEC Challenge marked the first outing for Jacobs and Tkachenko since recording an 8-1 doubles record in the spring, including an undefeated 4-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference.

LSU started off the Fall with a doubles championship at home in the Oli Borsos Invitational. Ronald Hohmann and Rafael Wagner faced LSU counterpart Nick Watson and Boris Kozlov where Hohmann/Wagner defeated fellow Tigers 8-5. LSU then traveled to Mississippi State for the Bulldog Classic to take on Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Tennessee. LSU continued to roll in doubles, going aperfect 4-0 on day two. LSU wrapped up the fall with a trip to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama and Vanderbilt. Hohmann and Wagner continued their success, walking away with two victories over Alabama. Two freshmen made their debuts for LSU in Tom Pisane and Ben Koch. Pisane won his first match in a Tigers uniform against Arkansas, Koch received his first victory over Ole Miss.

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 Geisslerhave 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. Senior Paris Corley's perfect 3-0 singles record in the SEC Challenge earned her the title of Singles Champion as the LSU women's tennis team concluded its fall season on Sunday, October 25 at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium.

Ole Miss
Men's tennis fought hard against SEC opponents during the fall slate. Despite only having five players on the active fall roster, the Rebels compiled 19 total victories across three events played. 2020 ITA Doubles All-American Tim Sandkaulen led the Rebels with a 5-4 record in singles. Tim Sandkaulen, Cotter Wilson, Brady Draheim, and Jan Soren Hein earned four doubles victories each.

Ole Miss Women's tennis dominated in doubles in the fall winning 16 of 24 matches in three events. 2018 ITA Doubles All-American Alexa Bortles, senior Sabina Machalova, and junior Tiphanie Fiquet each were 6-2 in doubles during the fall. The Rebels utilized seven different doubles pairings, five of which had winning records. Bortles and Machalova teamed together for all eight matches played. In singles, OleMiss won 21 matches. Machalova and Fiquet paced the team with five singles victories each. Machalova lost only once in singles, leading the Rebels with a combined 11-3 wins-to-loss record.

Mississippi State
A new face in Nemanja Malesevic as well as a new state of the art facility highlighted the 2020 fall slate for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldog Challenge marked the first time in over 25 years that MSU tennis has hosted a fall event on campus. The Men's tennis team finished the fall season 29-37 in singles, and 12-18 in doubles with matchups coming from majority all fellow SEC foes. Freshman Davide Tortora and Alberto Colas lead the Bulldogs this fall, each notching a 6-4 singles record. Freshman Alberto Colas and Nemanja Malesevic ended the fall season on a two-match win streak.

Mississippi State women's tennis posted a 25-18 overall record (18-11 singles, 7-7 doubles) in three 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 firstfall 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 led the Bulldogs in her first semester in Starkville with a 10-6 overall record (6-2 singles, 4-4 doubles). Freshman Alexandra Mikhailuk owneda team-best 5-3 ledger in doubles, pairing with Marta Falceto and Poling.

Mizzou Tennis picked up a pair of victories in a doubleheader match over Central Arkansas on Friday, as the Tigers defeated the Bears 4-3 in both matches. In each match, Mizzou won the doubles point and three matches in singles play. A pair of Mizzou Tennis student-athletes- junior Bronte Murgett and senior Ellie Wright traveled to compete in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships. Murgett, fresh off a singles championship at the ITA Central Regional, picked up two victories at the tournament, as she defeated Pacific's Klara Kosan, 7-6 (9), 6-1 and UCF's Valeriya Zeleva, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4. Wright dropped all three of her matches at the tournament.

South Carolina
South Carolina men's tennis hosted two of its three fall competitions, and head coach Josh Goffi got a good sense of where his team is in preparation for the 2021 spring campaign. Sophomore Daniel Rodrigues rose to the top of the lineup with a 6-2 record that included wins over several opponents who finished last season ranked in the top 30. Freshman Connor Thomson turned in a 5-4 record, picking up right where he left off last season while playing higher in the lineup. True freshman Toby Samuel made a smooth transition to college tennis, going 5-3 this fall. Two other Gamecocks turned in five wins through the nine days of competition - Jake Beasley (5-1) and Thomas Brown (5-3).

The South Carolina women's tennis team competed in two events this fall, the UT Fall Invite in Knoxville and the Bulldog Invitational in Athens. Emma Shelton, now in her second season with the program, posted the most singles victories with a 3-3 record, and she had the same mark for doubles play with Silvia Chinellato. Megan Davies and Mia Horvit, who played the top two positions in singles last season, werethe Gamecocks' most productive duo with a 4-2 slate. Horvit went 2-2 in singles, while Davies was 2-3. Both Davies and Shelton competed in the ITA Fall Championships, with Davies advancing to the second round. The Gamecocks signedthree new players in November with Sarah Hamner and Misa Malkin set to join Carolina in fall 2021, while Allie Gretkowski, the top prospect in the state, will enroll at South Carolina in spring 2021.

Tennessee men's tennis rolled through the 2020 Fall season, compiling an overall team record of 63-16 (.797) in singles and 27-12 (.692) in doubles. Senior Adam Walton was efficient and consistent through the Fall finishing with a 6-1 mark in singles and a ledger of 7-2 in doubles play. His main doubles partner Pat Harper compiled the best overall Fall record for the Vols going 7-1 in both singles and doubles, playing all of his doubles matches with Walton. After dropping his opening match of the season at South Carolina, graduate student Luca Wiedenmann reeled off eight consecutive singles triumphs to finish the Fall with an 8-1 record. Wiedenmann now has 91 career singles victories and is just nine wins shy of becoming the 10th ever Vol to reach 100 career singles wins. The senior tandem of Mark Wallner and Andrew Rogers came on strong in the latter parts of the Fall. With each not playing in UT's opening tournament, the duo went 6-1 as a partnership in doubles, while each concluded the Fall with unblemished 6-0 records in singles. Graduate student Giles Hussey was also nearly perfect in singles play as he put together the Vols best singles record with a mark of 9-1, opening the year with seven consecutive victories. Rounding out the Tennessee lineup was freshman Johannus Monday. Monday finished the season with six consecutive singles wins after a tough opening weekend at South Carolina to finish the Fall with a 7-2 mark in singles. Doubles was an up-and-down affair for the Swindon, England native, but he found his footing on the doubles court with graduate transfer Joel Gamerov as the duo went 3-1 in the Vols final Fall tournament: the Volunteer Showdown.

Sophomore Carly Briggs and junior Daria Kuczer highlighted the 2020 fall season forthe Tennessee women's tennis team. Briggs ended the fall with a 7-2 solo record and rides a five-match winning streak heading into the spring. Kuczer, a transfer by way of Pepperdine, amassed a 6-3 solo record and opened her Lady Vol career with three-straight solo victories. Freshman Esther Adeshina wrapped up her debut fall season with a 5-3 record, winning three of five three-set matches along the way. In doubles play, Briggs and Kuczer paired to finish with a 5-3 record. Sophomore CallieCreath and senior Johanna Silva posted a 4-1 doubles record this fall.

Texas A&M
Texas A&M men's tennis celebrated a strong 2020 fall tournament season with a slew of singles titles across three tournaments. The Aggies started the year with an appearance at the Olivier Borsos Invitational hosted by LSU, in which Juan Carlos Aguilar, Hady Habib and Noah Schachter all won their respective singles draws. A&M earned 33 overall victories at the event with 21 in singles and 12 in doubles play. Next, the Maroon & White sent four student-athletes to the TCU Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas, with Schachter garnering his second straight singles crown. Senior star Valentin Vacherot led the way for the team at the Gamecock Fall SEC Shootout hosted by South Carolina. The Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, native went undefeated in singles at the tournament and claimed the singles title, while Habib and Barnaby Smith also secured two singles wins apiece. Texas A&M's 14- member squad now turns its attention to the 2021 spring dual-match season following a 12-3 performance in the abbreviated 2020 campaign.

The Texas A&M women's tennis team hosted a pair of tournaments in the 2020 fall season and submitted multiple excellent individual performances. In the Texas A&MFall Invite against Texas, LSU and Rice, the Aggies earned 12 singles wins and eight doubles victories to bring the team's overall total to 20. A&M took a two-week hiatus and returned to host the Aggie Halloween Classic, welcoming TCU, Baylor and Rice to the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Following an undefeated effort from junior Tatiana Makarova, the Maroon & White finished with 17 overall victories.Sophomore Katya Townsend dominated during fall play, finishing 5-1 in her singles matches. Makarova also logged a 5-1 singles record in the fall while posting a stellar7-0 mark in doubles play. The Aggies return to the court on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 to challenge Houston and Prairie View A&M, opening dual match season at home in Bryan-College Station.

Vanderbilt 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 Srabergearned 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 lone home tournament from Oct. 16-18, 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 JoubertKlopper 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 fall season with Anessa Lee and Holly Staff pacing the Commodores with five singles wins over the course of the three-event slate. In all, the rookie duo joined Amanda Meyer with five singles wins apiece to help Vanderbilt top off a successful fall campaign. 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. One week later 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. Closing the fall season with a second homeevent, Staff was a perfect 2-0 in singles action with straight-set wins over Tennessee's Callie Creath and Auburn's Adeline Flach. The Dores also had an fantastic start to the weekend in doubles, sweeping Tennessee 3-0 with Kurtz joining Christina Rosca for a 6-3 win over Carly Briggs and Daria Kuczer in Rosca's first action of the fall slate.