Potential Match with Top Ranked Virginia at ITA
Heading into the first round of the ITA Indoor Team Championships, the Razorbacks men’s tennis team must not look past their first opponent.
Arkansas will face No. 63 Georgia State at 2 p.m. Friday in the first match of the ITA Kickoff Weekend. If they defeat Georgia State, they will most likely face No. 1 Virginia Saturday.
First-year head coach Joerg Barthel, who was previously the associate head coach at Nebraska, leads Georgia State.
“(Barthel) is familiar with our student-athletes, but we’re not that familiar with Georgia State student-athletes,” UA head coach Robert Cox said. “From what I can see, they’re very talented.”
With a potential showdown with the No. 1 team in the country on the horizon, Cox knows he must make sure his team is focused on the Panthers.
“I’m not looking ahead, but I know (the players) are. That’s just natural,” Cox said. “I have to grab their attention today and tomorrow.”
He believes that once the team arrives in Charlottesville, Va., he’ll be able to “pull them in a little bit” and make them realize the importance of beating Georgia State first, Cox said.
Arkansas’ matches against Nebraska-Omaha and South Dakota State last weekend provided them with a chance to “get back on the court and back to our winning ways,” Cox said.
On the court, Cox expects seniors Mike Ward and Gregoire Lehmann to continue growing into leadership roles.
Last weekend, Ward and Lehmann won both of their singles and doubles matches.
Freshman Santiago Munoz also had a solid weekend in his debut matches.
“He played like a veteran out there,” Cox said. “I know he was nervous. I was nervous for him.”
Austin Robles and Christian Lee began their careers with the Razorbacks as freshmen, both earning their first collegiate victories. Redshirt junior Pete Thomason also picked up his first victory with Arkansas.
“It was good to get the nerves out,” Cox said. “I know they had the jitters for a little bit, but they did well.”
The Razorbacks must face Georgia State seniors Lucas Santa Ana and Victor Valente, who are 10-1 and 10-3, respectively, in singles matches so far this season.
If the Razorbacks get by Georgia State and play the top-ranked Cavaliers, they will have to face junior Alex Domijan and senior Jarmere Jenkins, the No. 2 and No. 4 athletes in the ITA singles rankings, respectively, and reigning All-Americans.
The other team in the Charlottesville regional is No. 64 North Florida.