Men's Tennis lands four in ITA Singles rankings
AUSTIN, Texas -- The University of Texas figured prominently in the preseason men's singles rankings released Tuesday by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). UT boasts four Longhorns among the nation's top 125 singles players and joins Illinois and Virginia as the only teams with at least four student-athletes featured in the singles rankings.
Leading the way is sophomore Travis Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West HS) at No. 22. After totaling a 26-13 mark a season ago, Helgeson shattered his previous career-high ranking of No. 39 set last February. Helgeson qualified for NCAA singles play last May where he defeated Texas A&M's Ante Matijevic and Georgia's 13th-ranked John Isner on his way to the round of 16.
Coming in at No. 41 is senior Roger Gubser (Laredo, Texas/St. Stephens HS) who beat his previous high ranking of No. 53 set last January. Gubser's 57-24 overall record a season ago was good for a team-high .704 winning percentage.
Sophomore Milan Mihailovic (Nis, Serbia/Gimnazija Svetozar Markovic) makes his debut in the ITA singles rankings at No. 103. Mihailovic totaled an impressive 25-10 singles record a year ago during his first season of NCAA competition.
Also making his ITA-rankings debut is freshman Michael Venus (Orlando, Fla.). The second highest-ranked freshman in men's collegiate tennis, Venus recently won the USTA Boys' 18 National Clay Court Doubles Championship. Senior Callum Beale (Adelaide, Australia) likely would have garnered a top-20 singles ranking, but he will take the fall season off, leaving him ineligible for the fall rankings.
"We feel pretty good about the team and where we stand right now," noted UT head men's tennis coach Michael Center. "We have a lot to prove after not making the NCAA round of 16 last season. These rankings show that the guys have worked hard, and it should be an exciting year for us."
The rankings release marks the first time a Texas team has had four Longhorns featured in the ITA singles rankings under Center.
Gubser teamed with junior Hubert Chodkiewicz (Corpus Christi, Texas/St. Stephens HS) for a No. 60 doubles ranking. As a result, Chodkiewicz scores his first career singles or doubles ranking.
Texas Awaits Difficult 2005-06 Schedule
"It's one of the toughest and most demanding schedules in the country," said Center, who begins his sixth season in Austin. "We're excited about the schedule. We want to see early on just how good we can be this year."
The Longhorns begin fall play on Sept. 17 at the Lubbock Challenger, a United States Tennis Association (USTA) event, before playing host to the UT Invitational from Sept. 23-25 at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center.
Texas heads to the ITA All-American Championships beginning on Oct. 3 in Tulsa, Okla., and a portion of the Longhorn squad will compete in the UTSA Invitational in San Antonio beginning on Oct. 7. The Horns will take part in a pair of USTA events in Midland and Arlington in mid-October before heading to Texas A&M on Oct. 21 for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Championships. UT wraps up the fall slate with the ITA National Indoor Championships during the first week of November.
After kicking off the new year with tournaments at Miami (Fla.) and Rice, Texas begins dual-match play with four consecutive road matches, beginning with a Jan. 28 match at Minnesota. UT travels to Arkansas on Feb. 5 before ending the road swing the following weekend at Duke and Virginia, a pair of top-10 teams a season ago.
Texas begins an 11-match home stand on Feb. 18 against Texas-Arlington before welcoming SMU the next day. The home swing features Pepperdine and Illinois, who each finished the 2005 season ranked in the top 10, as well as Big 12 foes Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Longhorns close the regular season with five of their last six matches on the road, including an Apr. 19 trip to Waco to meet 2005 NCAA runner-up Baylor. Texas welcomes Texas A&M for the season finale on Apr. 23. Thirteen opponents on the 2006 dual-match schedule qualified for the NCAA tournament a season ago.
"Five of our seven conference opponents made the NCAA tournament last year," noted Center. "When you add the likes of Illinois, Duke, Virginia, Arkansas and Minnesota, it makes for a challenging schedule."
Beale Spending Fall 'Down Under'
"Callum is taking the opportunity to challenge himself on the satellite tennis circuit," Center said. "He is completing extra coursework toward his degree and is excited about returning to Texas for his senior year."
Beale ended his junior season with a No. 46 ITA singles ranking after suffering a 6-2, 6-4 defeat to Duke's fifth-seeded Ludovic Walter at the 2005 NCAA Championships.