ATLANTA--A crosstown rival awaits on Thursday as the No. 61-ranked Georgia State men's tennis team duels with No. 67-ranked Georgia Tech at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex at 4 p.m.
Georgia State (7-5) kicks-off a busy weekend slate with its first of four matches in four days on Thursday afternoon. The Panthers and Yellow Jackets (4-4) have met every year since 1996 and have squared off 25 times dating back to 1976. Georgia State has one victory in those matches, a 5-2 triumph in 2000 when Georgia Tech was ranked No. 63.
Senior Victor Valente, ranked No. 81 in the latest ITA National Singles rankings, enters Thursday's match on a four-match winning streak in singles play. He is 9-2 this season with two victories over nationally-ranked singles opponents. Valente will get another shot at defeating a ranked opponent when he plays Georgia Tech senior Juan Spir in the No. 1 singles match. Thursday will be a rematch between the two nationally-ranked players after Valente defeated the No. 53-ranked Spir by a 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 score at the ITA Southeast Regional Championships last October.
Georgia State, led by first-yearhead coach Joerg Barthel, remained in the latest ITA National Team rankings released this week, the first of the season to use computer rankings. The team owns a 5-2 victory over No. 64-ranked Samford on Feb. 3 prior to the Bulldogs upsetting No. 31-ranked Alabama. All but one of GSU's losses this season have come against teams currently ranked in the Top 50.
"Georgia Tech is a great program that we have a lot of respect for and playing against them indoors will present a big challenge for us," Barthel said. "We need to realize that when you play nationally-ranked teams a lot of things have to come together for us to win. We have to compete hard, stay focused and play as a team in order to put us in a situation to win tough road matches like these."
Georgia Tech is looking to bounce back from a 6-1 defeat at No. 32-ranked Auburn on Sunday. Highlighting the match were Spir and sophomore Vikram Hundal upsetting the No. 1-ranked doubles pair of Daniel Cochrane and Andreas Mies. Spir and Hundal own the No. 3 ranking in the ITA National Doubles rankings.
Live stats will be available courtesy of ramblinwreck.com on Thursday afternoon. The Ken Byers Tennis Complex is located at the corner of 10th Street NW and Fowler Street NW just off of the Downtown Connector. Visit the men's tennis page on GeorgiaStateSports.com for a full recap with results following the match.