GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG will open its 2010-11 men's tennis season on Friday when it hosts the UNCG Fall Invitational Tournament at UNCG Courts.
The Spartans will play host to student-athletes from Belmont, Chattanooga, UNC Asheville, Elon, Gardner-Webb, Tennessee Tech, The Citadel and Kennesaw State. There will be action in both singles and doubles, with both having multiple flights. The tournament will run Friday through Sunday.
UNCG is coming off a landmark season in 2009-10. The Spartans went 17-6 in the spring dual match season and won its first conference title since 1995. UNCG earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament in the program's history, where it was matched up with national power Georgia.
The NCAA tournament trip capped a remarkable turnaround over the last two seasons under coach Thomas Mozur. UNCG won 32 matches over the last two seasons after winning just 23 matches in the previous six seasons - four of those under Mozur. The team's 17-6 record last season was its best since 2001-02, when it went 18-5. Just two seasons prior to last, the Spartans finished with a 3-20 record – a 14-win turnaround in those two seasons.
"I think everyone is a little bit more relaxed," said Mozur. "We have four returning starters from last year's team, so we have experience and that gives us some confidence. I like the attitude we have right now."
Head Coach Thomas Mozur talks about preseason practice and the team's expectation for 2010-11.
At No. 1 singles, Orcun Seyrek has been a big part of the turnaround. The junior from Istanbul, Turkey, has gone 53-11 over his two seasons at UNCG, including a 39-6 mark in dual match play. Last season, Seyrek set a school record with 28 wins on the year, compiling a 28-6 mark. Seyrek appeared in the national rankings briefly in 2008-09 thanks to a strong fall slate, which helped propel him to SoCon Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors. Last season, Seyrek had a stronger spring than fall, winning 19 of his last 21 singles matches to end the season.
But UNCG got strong play from Yaroslav Litus and Timion Meijs at the bottom of the lineup last season, as well. Meijs, a sophomore from The Netherlands, typically played No. 5 singles last season. He went 24-9 last year, including a 16-5 dual match mark. Three of Meijs' last four losses came in three-setters.
Spending most of the season at No. 4 singles, Litus, a junior from Orel, Russia, went 18-12 on the season, including 11-8 during the spring duals.
Mozur also brought in a trio of strong freshmen to help bolster the lineup. Chanon Varapongsittikul is a native of Bangkok, Thailand, where he was a member of that country's Junior Davis Cup team. Ahmet Sarioglu comes to UNCG from Ankara, Turkey, where he won the Turkish high school championship the last two seasons. In addition, Jimmy Roueche is a local product, having earned all-state honors and regional player of the year at Grimsley High School – just a mile down the road from the UNCG campus.
This weekend is the first of five events that UNCG will play during its fall slate. After this weekend, the Spartans will play four consecutive weekends in October, beginning with the Chattanooga Fall Invitational on Oct. 1. The dual match season will begin for the Spartans on Jan. 22 when UNCG hosts Winthrop at the Starmount Forest CC Indoor Courts.
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