ATLANTA—Three matches await the Georgia State men’s tennis team this weekend as it travels to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to compete in the MTSU Shootout beginning on Saturday.
The Panthers (9-8) are the No. 3 seed in the tournament by virtue of the latest ITA National Team rankings. GSU will take on the sixth-seeded Illinois State (5-10) in the first round. Georgia State and Illinois State are meeting for the first time since the Redbirds won a 4-2 match in Atlanta on Mar. 11, 2011.
A total of eight teams will compete in this year’s MTSU Shootout hosted by Middle Tennessee State University this weekend. Two nationally-ranked squads, top-seeded Middle Tennessee (#43) and second seed Elon (#72), hold the top spots in the tournament. All teams play first and second-round matches on Saturday prior to playing a championship or consolation match on Sunday.
Georgia State, led by first-year head coach Joerg Barthel, will take on the winner or loser between Elon and seventh-seeded FAU, which it defeated 4-2 last week, in the second round of the MTSU Shootout. GSU went 2-1 at last year’s MTSU Shootout with victories against Troy and DePaul and a narrow 4-3 loss at Middle Tennessee State.
"The MTSU Shootout is a perfect way to prepare us for the Sun Belt Conference Championship in three weeks since it has a very similar set up," Barthel said. "I feel like we are ready to play and are excited to compete against a well-coached team like Illinois State."
Georgia State went 1-1 on its spring break trip with the win at FAU, its second Sun Belt Conference victory of the season, and a loss at No. 65-ranked Miami. Senior Victor Valente, ranked No. 107 in the latest ITA National Singles rankings, earned two singles victories during the week. He first defeated FAU’s Jose Fantova by a 6-2, 6-3 margin at the No. 1 position last Wednesday. Then he knocked off Miami’s Gabriel Flores 7-6, 6-3 in his next match to improve his singles record to 13-3 this season. All 13 of his victories have come in straight sets this season. Valente earned the men’s tennis Sun Belt Player of the Week award for his effort last week, his second award this season.
Illinois State hails from the Missouri Valley Conference and owns a 5-2 victory over Big 10 foe Iowa this season. Senior Alexander Pelaez leads the Redbirds at the No. 1 position and owns a 9-5 record in singles play. Junior Erik Brunskog holds down the No. 2 spot and is 7-2 this season in singles play.
Visit the men’s tennis page following each day of play for a full recap and box score. Also check the Georgia State men’s tennis team’s Twitter at “@GSUMTennis” for updates on all results.