BRADENTON, Fla. – The Citadel men's tennis team opened up the 2018 campaign over the weekend by taking on Florida A&M in the Florida Early Spring Challenge – a neutral site, round-robin style tournament – on Saturday, Jan. 6 and Sunday, Jan. 7. Head coach Chuck Kriese learned a lot about his squad in the opening weekend as several young Bulldogs stepped up big in their matches.
"We had a very good out-of-the-gate performance at the Florida Early Spring Challenge this weekend. The flighted event allowed us to get good matches for our guys," Kriese said. "It looks like the guys trained hard over the Christmas break and starting the season off by getting these reps of match play in will surely help us as we go into the next five or six weeks against very tough ACC and SEC competition.
"If we can grow each and every time out, I believe that we will be a very good Southern Conference team this year," Kriese continued. "I've said all along that we have the right guys and they are a group of very tough competitors. We know the level we have to play at and the guys are working toward that level each and every day. I'm very glad that we had this opportunity to get a little competition under her belt before we take on Georgia Tech Tuesday, South Carolina on Saturday and Alabama the following Monday."
The Bulldogs went a combined 19-10 in singles play and 2-6 in doubles action against the Rattlers of FAMU. Three freshmen made their debuts for the Bulldogs and set a strong standard for themselves as they combined to go 8-1 in singles action. Gavin Stewart went 3-0 on the weekend with McMillan Covington also posting a perfect record in his two matches while Will Graham went 3-1.
Junior Trey Davis also had a solid first weekend out as he went 3-1 in his four singles matches, including two where he didn't give up a single point, and fellow junior Matthew Henson posted a strong 2-1 opening weekend with both of his wins coming in straight sets.
Jack Pyritz, Willem van Zyl and Roy Hobson rounded out the Bulldogs' singles lineup and each went 2-2 on the weekend.
In doubles play, Davis and Convinton combined to earn an 8-5 victory on Saturday while Pyritz and Stewart claimed an 8-2 victory on Sunday.
The Bulldogs have four tough dates coming up as they will take on Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee all on the road. The Bulldogs will first travel to Atlanta, Georgia, for a doubleheader against the Yellow Jackets on Tuesday, Jan. 9, before heading east along I-20 to Columbia, South Carolina, to take on the Gamecocks on Saturday, Jan. 13 in a doubleheader. From there, The Citadel will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for a single match at 5 p.m. Eastern standard time. The Bulldogs will close out the first tough stretch of the season with a doubleheader on Sunday, Jan. 21 at Tennessee.