ATLANTA--The No. 62-ranked Georgia State men's tennis team prepares for its first-ever trip to the ITA Kick-Off Weekend beginning on Friday with a 2 p.m. match against No. 55-ranked Arkansas in Charlottesville, Va.
The Panthers (2-0) qualified for the tournament after finishing last season ranked in the Top 75 of the ITA Men's National Team rankings. The top 15 schools are designated as host sites by the International Tennis Association and a draft determines the locations for the rest of the top 60 teams in the rankings. Georgia State finished last season ranked No. 60 and elected to compete at the University of Virginia in June.
In their first season under head coach Joerg Barthel, the Panthers have a chance to notch a first-ever victory at the prestigious annual event.
"This is huge for us and it is a huge success for the veterans who achieved this last year," Barthel said, "This an annual tournament that each year pits the best teams in the country against each other, and that is an elite level we want to get to. We want to qualify for this tournament on a yearly basis."
GSU squares off against No. 55-ranked Arkansas (2-0) on Friday at the Boar's Head Sports Club, just a short drive from the main campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. The Razorbacks enter the event after sweeping a doubleheader against Nebraska-Omaha and South Dakota State on Sunday in Omaha, Neb. Leading Arkansas is senior Gregoire Lehmann at the No. 1 singles position and sophomore Victor Hoang at t he No. 2 position.
"Any team out of the SEC is tough and they're a very tough team," Barthel said of Arkansas, "They are well coached and I know they always play strong doubles which will be very important in this match."
Senior Victor Valente notched a 6-0, 6-2, victory over Arkansas redshirt freshman Christian Lee from the Georgia Southern Championships last October. Lee played in the No. 4 singles position in the Razorbacks' first two matches. This weekend will mark GSU's eighth and ninth match vs. a nationally-ranked opponent since just the start of last season.
Live stats will be provided courtesy of virginiasports.com for Friday's and Saturday's matches. Visit the men's tennis page on GeorgiaStateSports.com for a full recap of results from each day at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Fans can follow the Georgia State men's tennis team on Twitter at "@GSUMTennis" to receive live updates of results from Charlottesville.