The men’s tennis team is primed for a big season and have many key contributors from last year returning. The team is led by junior Christopher Eubanks and senior Carlos Benito.
Eubanks and Benito are Tech’s only top-100 nationally ranked singles players going into this season, but many other Jackets will be vying for spots this weekend.
Eubanks is currently ranked the No. 5 singles player, and Benito is No. 73. The two of them also pair up for doubles and are currently ranked the No. 14
The Jackets will play this weekend in the Southern Intercollegiate Championships, hosted in Athens, Ga.
Head coach Kenny Thorne is hoping to find the right doubles pairings that will put the team in best position to succeed. This tournament will give Tech’s unranked players an opportunity to crack the top 100 list.
“First tournament of the year, we always look at doubles teams. We have one team that will play together, but other teams will be new,” Thorne said. “We haven’t had a team practice yet. These guys have been playing on their own, so we’re just going to evaluate where they’re at now, and it will really help us set up practice.”
Seeding for lineups in dual meets is wide open right now, and every player will get a chance to earn a spot in the singles events next spring.
“We take outside results throughout the summer and throughout the fall to make our lineups starting in January,” Thorne said. “Everybody is on level ground right now. Each guy will have about four opportunities to make an impact.”
Eubanks went 21-2 in the No. 1 lineup slot last year and is expected to retain the top spot on Tech’s this season.
Many players on the team played in tournaments over the summer. Eubanks played singles and doubles in the ATP Atlanta Open and made it to the quarterfinals in the doubles event. In qualifying singles draw, Eubanks knocked off the No. 243 player and No. 99 player in the world.
Coach Thorne praised Eubanks’ work ethic and believes the success Eubanks had this summer will help him take his game to the next level.
“I think it helped [Eubanks] a lot. Winning the matches over the summer shows the level he can play at. Doing it consistently is very important. [Eubanks] won a lot of close matches last year and did really well, but he’s the target now,” Thorne said.
Eubanks will contend for ACC Player of the Year this season and will be looking to break school records once again.
Junior Michael Kay and sophomore Andrew Li will also play a big role for the team this season. Both Kay and Li were regular participants in Tech’s singles lineups.
The two participated in tournaments this summer. They both believe the experience they gained this summer will help them greatly this season. Both players’ confidence are at an all-time high entering this weekend and expect their game to take the next step this year.
“I’m looking to keep up all the things I’ve been working on this summer,” Kay said. “Get some good matches in, get a feel for my game and get comfortable playing the way I need to play.”
Kay finished 15-12 in singles last year and partnered with his older brother Casey in doubles. The duo was ranked the No. 42, but Casey Kay has graduated.
Despite entering this tournament with new doubles partners, neither Li nor Kay are worried about their pairings.
“I’ve put in so much hard work this summer, so I want to see where I am compared to the other players,” Li said. “This is the first time partnering with Phillip Gresk, and we’ll see how it goes, but I think it will be really fun.”
Last season, Tech’s most common singles lineup consisted of Eubanks, Benito, Li, senior Cole Fiegel, junior Daniel Yun and former tennis player Nathan Rakkitt.
Every returning Tech player saw action in ACC competition. Kay, sophomores Phillip Gresk and Elijah Melendez and freshman Chris Yun will be competing to be a part of the first singles lineup in January.
Chris Yun is Tech’s only freshman and is the younger brother of Daniel. Chris Yun was ranked the top high school player in Georgia and No. 13 in the nation according to TennisRecruiting.net.
The 6-foot-7 Gresk did not see action last year due to ineligibility but has a lot of experience playing in International Tennis Federation events. However, he is one of the best tennis players
from Poland, and is expected to make a big impact on the team this season.
Coach Thorne will learn a lot about his team from this week’s tournament, and it will help prepare the team to get ready for upcoming tournaments and meets this Fall.
“I feel like we need to have some guys step up in the middle-top part of our lineup,” Thorne said. “I think we have a lot of guys who can have success in the lower part of the lineup, but we need to have some guys throughout this fall decide it’s their time and that they can be the guy who’s one of the better college players.”
This fall, Tech will host the Georgia Tech Invitational on October 7–9 at the Ken Byers