The Citadel begins spring season in Florida
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 01/07/2019
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The Citadel's Will Graham
Courtesy: Zachary D. Bland/The Citadel Athletics

BRADENTON, Fla. – The Citadel men's tennis team claimed nine singles wins over Florida A&M over the weekend with plenty of young players seeing action in the round-robin Florida Collegiate Classic.

"It's obvious that we have a lot of work to do on our doubles. We did not fair well in doubles, but in the singles matches, our guys showed their physical toughness and their ability to fight through a lot of adversity," said head coach Chuck Kriese. "There were very few easy matches, everything was hard, and the guys won most of those tough matches. I credit our conditioning program and the toughness of these Citadel guys."

Junior Noah Nawabi, sophomore Will Graham and freshman Phillip Quinn all claimed two wins on the week lead by Nawabi's 2-0 record in singles action. Graham and Quinn both went 2-1.

"I'm proud of all the guys, but some performances that really stood out were Phillip getting a good start on the year as a true freshman and Noah showing a lot of leadership in competitive situations," Kriese said. "All of the guys showed toughness that we will need as we move on into the season."

Nawabi started the two-day tournament off with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Courage Okungbowa and turned around on Sunday to defeat Robert Hayden 6-2, 7-6.

After dropping his first match of the weekend 7-6, 6-4 to Illya Skoromnyy, Graham bounced back with two victories in straight sets. Graham ended Saturday with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Rodney Sturgis and bested Luis Espinoza 6-2, 6-0 on Sunday.

Quinn's weekend started with a 2-6, 6-0, 7-5 win over Espinoza and concluded with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Sturgis after falling 7-5, 7-5 to Hayden.

Senior Roy Hobson, junior Jack Pyritz and freshman Josiah Schainblatt all notched their first wins of the season over the weekend as well.

Hobson bested Skoromnyy 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in the second round of the tournament after starting the weekend off with a close, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Okungbowa. Pyritz bested Hayden 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 on the first day of competition and Schainblatt got his collegiate career off to a good start with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Sturgis.

In doubles action, Pyritz and Quinn joined forces to claim the Bulldogs' lone victory, 8-7, over the duo of Hayden and Skoromnyy. The Bulldogs ended the tournament 1-3 in doubles action.

The 'Dogs will next travel to the University of South Carolina and Georgia Southern this weekend. The Bulldogs will play a doubleheader against the Gamecocks on Friday, Jan. 11, and will then face off against Morgan State and the Eagles on Sunday, Jan. 13.

The Citadel will open the home slate on Feb. 16 with the first Southern Conference match of the season against the Paladins of Furman.

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