ATLANTA--The No. 60-ranked Georgia State men's tennis team hosts three high-profile matchups this weekend as it takes on No. 61-ranked South Alabama, College of Charleston and George Washington on three consecutive days.
UPDATE: Friday's 2 p.m. match vs. South Alabama has been moved to 7 p.m. to be played at the Peachtree City Tennis Center.
All matches are scheduled to be played at their regularly-scheduled times at the Blackburn Tennis Center. Due to inclement weather, back-up plans are in place to play all of the matches on the indoor surfaces at the Peachtree City Tennis Center. The decision to move any matches indoors will be made the morning of each match day.
Highlighting the weekend slate of matches is Georgia State's fourth match vs. a nationally-ranked opponent on Friday. The Panthers are looking for their first win in program history vs. the Jaguars in the ninth meeting in the all-time series. The match also serves as the Georgia State men's tennis team's first against a Sun Belt Conference opponent after its recent move to the conference. A nationally-ranked singles showdown at the No. 1 position is the focal point of the match as GSU's No. 75-ranked senior Victor Valente faces USA's No. 49-ranked Daniel Leitner. Valente and Leitner both own wins over nationally-ranked opponents this spring.
"Playing three matches in three days is going to present a major challenge for our team but I feel like we are ready to come out strong," first-year head coach Joerg Barthel said. "We have had a good week of practice and we are eager to play our first Sun Belt team since joining the league with South Alabama on Friday."
South Alabama enters Friday's match after carrying a national ranking throughout the entire beginning of the 2013 spring season. Leitner leads the team with a 5-0 record at the No. 1 singles position, including a 3-0 mark against nationally-ranked opponents. He most recently defeated Mississippi State's No. 28-ranked Romain Bogaerts on Feb. 10. The Jaguars competed in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Gainesville, Fla., where they notched an impressive 7-0 victory against No. 56-ranked St. John's. The team is coached by former Georgia State head coach and student-athlete Nick Brochu (2002-07) in his fifth season.
"South Alabama is a tough team that is well coached with a lot of talent," Barthel said, "They are a nationally-ranked team this season and have been a nationally-recognized program for years, they will be coming to Atlanta with a lot to play for."
The College of Charleston is a yearly contender for the Southern Conference championship following three-consecutive regular-season titles. Sixth-year head coach Jay Bruner and the Cougars won the conference last season after reaching the finals the year prior. Junior Brice Allanic leads the Cougars at the No. 1 position while sophomore Sebastian Lopez owns two victories in the No. 2 slot. Charleston owns two victories, a 5-2 triumph over Winthrop and a 4-3 win at Presbyterian. GSU notched a hard-fought 5-2 victory last season, winning five of six singles matches after dropping the doubles point.
"College of Charleston has won their conference a few times in the last couple of years and brings a lot of talent on their side to Saturday's match," Barthel said.
Georgia State and George Washington will be meeting for the first time since the 1982 season when GSU notched a 9-0 victory. Sophomore Francisco Dias leads the Colonials at the No. 1 position. He is the reigning 2012 Atlantic 10 Conference Most Outstanding Performer and Most Outstanding Rookie Performer. Dias was a nationally-ranked singles player last season and competed in the singles event at the ITA All-American Championships last fall.
"George Washington has played a very strong schedule this season and have experience playing nationally-ranked teams like us," Barthel said.
Live stats will be available courtesy of GeorgiaStateSports.com for all of GSU's matches this weekend. Visit the men's tennis page following each match for a full recap and list of results. Fans can also follow the men's tennis team on Twitter at "@GSUMTennis" for live results.