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Niners welcome UNC Asheville to LifeTime Fitness on Sunday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Men’s Tennis (2-0) will aim to carry on its success at LifeTime Fitness as the Niners play host to UNC Asheville on Sunday, January 21 at 12 p.m. noon.

Last week, the Niners began their 2024 dual match season at LifeTime Fitness indoor courts with victories against Queens and The Citadel, taking advantage of the weather and temperature.

Live statistics for the men’s tennis matches will be available this weekend. However, live video streaming will not be available at LifeTime Fitness.

RECENT PERFORMANCES

Queens was defeated 5-2 by the Niners last Saturday, followed by a comprehensive 7-0 victory over The Citadel the next day. Matias Iturbe, leading at the No. 1 singles spot, secured two victories and contributed to the doubles clinching point against Queens. Ivan Dreycopp clinched the match against Queens and was one of the five straight-set victors for the Niners.

Besides Iturbe, Vasco Prata, Frederic Schlossmann, and Coy Simon have also achieved a 2-0 record in singles competition. Prata and Schlossmann have combined for a pair of wins on court two.

SCOUTING UNC ASHEVILLE

This marks the spring opener for UNC Asheville after their participation in four events in the fall, including the Charlotte Fall Invitational. Charlotte secured a 6-1 victory against the Bulldogs at their home event in September, attaining four straight-set victories in singles competition.

Head Coach Matt Frost returns to lead the Bulldogs after successfully developing Division II Tusculum University Women’s and Men’s Tennis into nationally-ranked programs during his two-season tenure there.

SERIES RECORD

Charlotte holds a 6-1 lead in the all-time series against UNC Asheville. The Niners have emerged victorious in the last six matchups with the Bulldogs after succumbing in their first-ever encounter. In the most recent clash on February 18, 2023 in Asheville, N.C., the Niners triumphed with a score of 6-1. During the last season’s fixture, Coy Simon, Matias Iturbe, and Ivan Dreycopp secured victories as the Niners dominated the singles courts from one to five.

The inaugural meeting occurred on March 4, 2011, resulting in a 5-1 win for the Bulldogs. Krzysztof Kwasniewicz provided Charlotte’s sole point at the No. 5 singles slot.

PREPARATIONS FOR SPRING

The 23-match spring schedule includes encounters with the five 2023 NCAA Tournament participants, six fellow American Athletic Conference programs, and eight teams ranked in the top 75 of last season’s year-end ITA rankings. Following three matches in Charlotte to start the season, the Niners will embark on a challenging run of six consecutive away matches from January 27 to February 11.

The subsequent home stretch from Feb. 17 to Feb. 25 will feature South Carolina State, a 2023 NCAA Tournament participant, and Liberty, the reigning 2023 NIT Champions.

Of the final six matches for Charlotte, four were against opponents ranked in the ITA Top 75 or had featured in the NCAA Tournament in 2023. The Niners have the advantage of hosting three of these formidable opponents at home. Charlotte will host Presbyterian on March 29. The Blue Hose attained a 16-10 record last season and secured a spot in the 2023 NCAA Tournament after winning the 2023 Big South Championship. Two days later, the Niners will host AAC opponent Rice.

EXPANDING FIREPOWER

With the return of seven players from the previous season and the addition of Spencer Gray from Auburn in the fall, the Niners have bolstered their squad further. Graduate transfer Alex Richards joins from Wichita State as a highly regarded doubles player, while junior Frederic Schlossmann arrives from Austin Peay.

Richards’ four seasons with the Shockers saw him attain an overall record of 42-31 in doubles competition, including 29 wins at the No. 1 slot. He reached a high of No. 49 in the ITA national double rankings, and also made it to the doubles quarterfinals of the ITA Central Region Championships twice in the fall of 2021 and 2022.

Schlossmann, a two-time all-conference selection with the Governors, was exclusively at the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles spots during his sophomore season in 2021-22, and was named a first-team All-Ohio Valley selection after leading Austin Peay with eight doubles victories and six singles wins during the spring.

FALL REFLECTION

During the 2023-24 fall season, the Niners participated in five events, accumulating a 48-34 singles competition record and a 22-11 doubles play record. In the Wake Forest Invitational, Ivan Dreycopp defeated a nationally ranked player from Princeton. In the same event, Matias Iturbe went 4-0 to secure the B1 singles flight title.

Brett Gloria, boasting a flawless 6-0 fall record, is ranked 117th in the most recent (Nov. 15) ITA Singles’ Ranking. Iturbe concluded the fall with a team-high 11 singles victories (11-3 record) and a team-high nine doubles wins (9-3). Ivan Dreycopp achieved an 8-3 record in doubles play during the fall.

LAST SEASON AND THE UPWARD TRAJECTORY

In 2022-23, the Niners squad consisted of three freshmen, two sophomores, and a senior who took on a 25-match Spring schedule including encounters with six Power Five opponents and 10 ranked teams. Last season saw the collegiate dual match debuts of four Niners. This season, seven players return from the 9-14 squad and offer added experience, having secured the program’s first-ever appearance at ITA Kickoff Weekend and defeated NCAA Tournament hopeful, Texas Tech, 4-3. On that occasion, then-sophomores Simon and Prata secured victories at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, while then-freshmen Iturbe and Dreycopp recorded wins at No. 4 and No. 5 singles. All four players are back for the upcoming season.

The 2023-24 version of the 49ers has a stronger lineup, with an uninjured Prata (17-5 in dual match play as a freshman), after he missed the majority of the 2023 spring season due to a hand injury. His absence in the previous season deprived Charlotte of its No. 2 singles player and disrupted its best doubles pair.

A NEW CHALLENGE IN A NEW CONFERENCE

Charlotte’s Men’s Tennis has joined the American Athletic Conference, marking the Niners’ first season in the AAC after 10 seasons in Conference USA. This represents a return to familiar territory, as the program was previously in C-USA from 1995 to 2005 before being a member of the Atlantic-10 from 2006 to 2013.

The new objective for the Green & White is to secure an AAC Championship for the Queen City. Under the guidance of Bailey, Charlotte has made three Conference USA Tournament appearances, and reached the Conference USA title match for the first time in the program’s history. The sole conference tournament title came when Charlotte secured three wins in three days at the 2007 Atlantic 10 Tournament, subsequently qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in history.

UPCOMING

Following the kickoff of the spring season with three consecutive home matches, Charlotte will travel to Blacksburg, Va. to compete against Virginia Tech and Radford in the next pair of fixtures on Sunday, January 28.

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