March 3, 2011
The No. 20 University of Louisville men's tennis team is getting set for a weekend series featuring No. 35 Virginia Tech and Harvard. The Cards will travel to Blacksburg, Va. take on the Hokies at 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 4 at 2:30 p.m. After that match return to the Bass Rudd Tennis Center to play host to Harvard Sunday March 6 at noon.
The Cardinals (8-5) are looking to get back on track after dropping their last five matches. Louisville opened the season with the best start in school history at 8-0 and have since fallen in five straight matches. The Cards have played a grueling schedule and every loss has come to a team ranked in the top 20 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll, with four teams ranked in the top six (No. 3 Tennessee, No. 6 UCLA, No. 2 USC and No. 3 Ohio State).
The Cards are led by seniors Austen Childs and Viktor Maksimcuk who are ranked at No. 12 and No. 115 respectively in the ITA singles poll, and team together to stand at No. 16 in the doubles poll. Maksimcuk and senior Simon Childs are also No. 77 in the doubles rankings.
Virginia Tech is No. 35 nationally and have one singles player and one doubles team in the rankings. Luka Somen leads the Hokies with a No. 51 ranking while he teams with Corrardo Degl'Incerti Tocci for a No. 76 doubles rank.
"Our match against Virginia Tech in the NCAA regional final was a battle," said U of L head coach Rex Ecarma. "I expect nothing less for the rematch. We'll be prepared. We know what is at stake and the quality team they have and we'll be prepared to give it everything we've got."
The Cards lead the Hokies 9-7 all-time. The two schools met twice during the 2010 season and Louisville won both matches. The most recent outing between the two came when Louisville beat Virginia Tech 4-1 at the Bass Rudd Tennis Center on May 16, 2010. The win sent the Cardinals to the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time in program history.
On Sunday the Cards will face Harvard for the second time in program history. The two schools last met in 2005 when Louisville won 4-3 in Cambridge, Mass.
"We have not played Harvard since 2005 when we won a very close 4-3 match in Boston," said Ecarma. "Harvard always has a very solid team. They are very well-coached and they should be well-acclimated to the surroundings after playing at the Bass-Rudd tennis center against Ball State on Saturday. We know we have our hands full."
Harvard is led by the doubles duo of Christo Schultz and Jonathan Pearlman which is ranked No. 67 in the ITA poll.
After this weekend series, the Cardinals will hit the road to California for a re-match with No. 6 Southern California, and a trip to No. 15 Pepperdine.