Men's Tennis preview: ITA National Team Indoor Championship
WHAT: No. 7 Texas (6-0) begins play in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, a 16-team dual-match tournament where each team is guaranteed to play at least three matches.
WHERE: Seattle Tennis Club and the Nordstrom Tennis Center - Seattle, Wash.
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 15 - Monday, Feb. 18; Texas begins play on Friday against No. 10 Alabama at 7:30 p.m. Central. Should Texas win on Friday, it would play on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Central against the winner of Friday's match featuring 15th-seeded host Washington and second-seeded Georgia, the defending NCAA champion. Should Texas fall to Alabama, it would play on Saturday at a time to be announced, and then again on Sunday.
LAST MEETING WITH ALABAMA: The Longhorns and the Crimson Tide last met on March 18, 1990 in Austin, where Texas posted a 5-1 win. Texas is 5-0 in its series with Alabama.
ITA NATIONAL INDOORS HISTORY: Among 2008 tournament participants, Texas ranks fourth behind Georgia, UCLA and USC with 23 appearances at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. UT holds a 36-33 overall record in the event, with its best finishes coming in the semifinals of the 1975 and 1983 events. The Longhorns are making their second consecutive appearance at the ITA National Indoors and their fourth under coach Michael Center, who holds a 4-5 record in the event while at Texas.
ITA RANKINGS UPDATE: Texas is ranked No. 7 in the Feb. 5 release of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) team rankings. UT opened the season at No. 7, marking the highest preseason rank in coach Michael Center's eight-year tenure at Texas.
Freshman Kellen Damico opens at No. 24 in the ITA singles rankings, while freshman Ed Corrie ranks 52nd. Sophomore All-Big 12 standout Dimitar Kutrovsky ranks 53rd, and sophomore Jon Wiegand has made his ITA singles rankings debut at No. 100.
Damico and senior Luis Diaz Barriga hold the No. 12 doubles ranking after winning the ITA South Central Regional Championship. Corrie and senior Hubert Chodkiewicz rank 13th in the ITA doubles rankings.
CENTER GOES FOR #300: Texas coach Michael Center will look for his 300th career victory in the opening round against Alabama. Now in his 17th year as a head coach, Center holds a 299-120 (.714) overall record and a 140-52 (.729) mark at Texas.
THE 2008 LONGHORNS: Under head coach Michael Center, the 2007 USPTA National College Coach of the Year, Texas returns all 10 letterwinners from the 2007 squad that registered a 20-9 record and reached the round of 16 at the NCAA Championship. Texas reached the finals of the Big 12 Championship for a second consecutive season after defeating Texas Tech and upsetting Oklahoma State in the opening rounds.
Newcomers Kellen Damico and Ed Corrie have excelled early on in their Longhorn careers, as the duo boasts a collective 34-10 singles record. Damico won singles titles at the HEB Baylor Fall Invitational and the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational in his first semester, and Corrie claimed the Texas Invitational in November.
Texas opened the 2008 season with home victories over SMU, Clemson, Texas-Arlington and Texas-San Antonio. UT hit the road on Friday, Feb. 1 and tallied a 7-0 win at Arkansas. Texas defeated No. 22 Texas A&M by a 4-0 count on Friday, Feb. 8 in the Texas Cup, a series of non-conference, neutral-site matches between the two schools. The Longhorns are 17-0 in doubles matches and hold a 31-3 singles record in their six dual matches.