ATLANTA--Georgia State begins its first season under head coach Joerg Barthel with a road match at Chattanooga on Friday at 6 p.m.
The No. 63-ranked Panthers return several starters and letterwinners from last year's squad including senior Victor Valente who enters the year ranked No. 54 in the ITA National Singles Rankings. Also returning is junior Thomas Cook who will be an important piece in the top half of GSU's singles and doubles lineup. Senior Lucas Santa Ana is an experienced winner with 52 career singles victories. Also returning is sophomore Sofiane Chevallier who enjoyed a solid rookie season compiling nine singles wins.
Valente holds down the top spot in the lineup and Cook is expected to be a mainstay at the No. 2 or No. 3 positions after an All-CAA campaign last year. The addition of four newcomers to the team this season will allow for flexibility in the rest of the singles lineup and the doubles pairings. GSU's first-year players include Chinmay Handa, Paul Schuette, Robert Schulze and Andrew Zedde. All are expected to contribute this season.
Barthel begins his first season as Georgia State's head coach following a successful run as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Nebraska. During his tenure the Cornhuskers earned their first two NCAA berths in school history and first two appearances at the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships.
"Chattanooga is a well-coached team with a lot of senior leadership, they have gotten better every year over a three-year span and have become a very good team," Barthel said, "We will be ready for the challenge and we look forward to starting the season. Our guys have been waiting to get out on the courts and compete."
Chattanooga is an experienced squad as it returns eight players, including seven seniors, from a team that notched a 14-9 record last season. The 14-9 record was Chattanooga's best since 2007. Senior Roberto Vieira is a three-time All-Southern Conference player and leads the Mocs at the top singles spot.
Georgia State follows Friday's opening match with its home opener on Monday against Tennessee Tech at the Peachtree City Tennis Center (10 a.m.).
Live stats for Friday's match will be available courtesy of gomocs.com. Fans can follow the men's tennis program on Twitter at "@GSUMTennis" for live updates of Friday's match and all matches this season. Visit the Georgia State men's tennis page following the match for a full recap of the team's first dual match of the 2013 season.