WACO – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros men’s tennis team gets back to compete this weekend to take on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Championships in Waco.
The regional tournament runs Thursday through Tuesday at Baylor’s Hurd Tennis Center and will bring together some of the best teams in NCAA Division I men’s tennis. TCU, Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M, all teams ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the 2022 season, will be represented, along with SMU, Texas Tech, UTSA, Rice, Abilene Christian, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UT- Arlington, Lamar and Incarnate Word.
Sophomore Borna Devald is an automatic qualifier for the Singles Main Draw Round of 64, which begins Friday. The remaining Vaqueros will try to advance to the Main Draw as they each compete in two qualifying singles matches starting at 9 am Thursday. Doubles matches will start on Friday.
“The Texas regional is the toughest regional in the country, by a margin,” men’s tennis head coach Nathan Robinson said. “We’re looking to work hard and leave it all out there. When we walk off the court, we want no questions, no doubts that we put everything into it and we did everything we’ve done in practice. Our guys have really bought into that and they know this tournament is going to be a fun one.”
UTRGV saw some good results at the first fall tournament in September, highlighted by junior Emilien Burnel starting his Vaqueros career 3-0 in singles and being named the Western Athletic Conference Singles Player of the Month. The Vaqueros also saw areas for improvement and have increased their focus and intensity in practices to get ready for this next outing. Robinson praised the team for showing “massive improvements” over the last two weeks.
“The team looks ready to go, and having played at regionals last year, we gained a bit more confidence, so hopefully this round will be even better,” senior Chris Lawrance said. “I’m feeling really good. Some of the things I’ve been working on are hitting the ball a little bit harder, with a little bit more pace. We know what to expect when we go there. Raising my level is really crucial to be able to compete with these top guys.”
Lawrance and senior Te Kani Williams will be the only repeat doubles pairing from UTRGV’s first tournament. At ITA Regionals, Burnel will team up with Devald, while sophomores Sam Whitehead and Karlo Krolo play together.
“We run a specific style of doubles, so when we swap around teammates, it’s about whose shot is going to free up the other guy better,” Robinson said. “Sam and Karlo are two big servers and big bodies. With Borna and Emi, we’ve got two guys who move extremely well, are extremely athletic and have underrated serves and very good hands. With TK and Chris, we have two seasoned college players who know what they’re doing, can return well, move well and communicate very well together.”
With the tournament boasting a deep field of players, the Vaqueros know all matches will bring stiff competition and they’re eager to take on that challenge.
Schedule of Play
Singles – Qualifying Round of 64
Karlo Krolo (UTRGV) vs. Andoni Garmendia (UIW), 9 am
Chris Lawrance (UTRGV) vs. Miguel Alonso (UTSA), 10 a.m.
Emilien Burnel (UTRGV) vs. Jose Maria Rastrojo (ACU), 10:30 a.m.
Sam Whitehead (UTRGV) vs. Anton Shepp (UTA), 11 a.m.
Te Kani Williams (UTRGV) vs. Kabeer Kapasi (UK), 11 a.m.
Singles – Qualifying Round of 32
Singles – Main Draw Round of 64
Borna Devald (UTRGV) vs. TBD
Singles – Main Draw Round of 32
Doubles – Round of 64
Singles – Main Draw Round of 16
Doubles – Round of 32
Doubles – Round of 16
Singles – Quarterfinals
Doubles – Quarterfinals
Singles – Semifinals
Doubles – Semifinals
Singles – Finals
Doubles – Finals
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