Men's Tennis preview: Rice
WHAT: No. 5 Texas (8-1) visits No. 24 Rice (7-1) after taking two of three matches at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
WHERE: Jake Hess Tennis Stadium - Houston
WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 24 - 1 p.m. Central
LAST MEETING WITH RICE: Rice defeated Texas by a 4-3 margin on Feb. 25, 2007 in Austin. Texas holds a 58-17-7 lead in the overall series between the two schools.
ITA RANKINGS UPDATE: Texas is ranked No. 5 in the Feb. 20 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 moved up to No. 18 in the ITA singles rankings, while freshman Ed Corrie ranks 24th. Sophomore All-Big 12 standout Dimitar Kutrovsky ranks 54th, and senior Luis Diaz Barriga ranks 88th.
Damico and senior Luis Diaz Barriga hold the No. 8 doubles ranking after winning the ITA South Central Regional Championship.
Rice features three players in the ITA singles rankings in 26th-ranked Bruno Rosa, 55th-ranked Christoph Muller and 92nd-ranked Ralph Knupfer.
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. 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.
Texas went on to take two of three matches at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Seattle. UT opened with a 4-0 win over No. 10 Alabama before falling to No. 2 Georgia in the quarterfinals, 4-2. Texas ended its tournament run with a decisive 4-1 victory over No. 6 USC.
Texas coach Michael Center collected his 300th career victory against Alabama. Now in his 17th year as a head coach, Center holds a 301-121 (.713) overall record and a 142-53 (.728) mark at Texas.