ATLANTA – After a highly successful 2012-13 season, the Georgia State men’s tennis team is ready to hit the court again.

The team made school history last season when it made the NCAA Team, Singles and Doubles Championships. Led by the stellar effort of its two seniors, Lucas Santa Ana and Victor Valente, the Panthers also won the Sun Belt Conference Championship, giving the team an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Santa Ana and Valente were then invited to the NCAA Doubles Championship, while Valente was invited to the Singles Championship.

Santa Ana and Valente graduated following that season, but four players will return for a nucleus, with the addition of four talented freshman.

“We have several goals this year,” head coach Joerg Barthel said. “One is for our team to get together, since this team is very different from last year. We’re so young and I want to see our team come together as a group.

“Second, I want our freshmen to get a lot of experience and really learn about Georgia State and college tennis. I’m not overly concerned about fall individual results. I just want to see this fall how they compete and see how our leadership is. Thomas Cook and Robert Schulze are our captains and I want to see them step into their leadership roles, especially with four freshman.”

The quartet of freshman include: Eric Baum from Germany, Christian Gochnauer from Lawrenceville, Ga., Valentin Horvat from Slovenia and Jannis Koeke from Germany.

The quartet of returning vets include seniors Schulze and Cook, plus junior Sofiane Chevallier and sophomore Chinmay Handa.

Barthel said he hopes the team can use the momentum from last year to compete for another championship title and better the team ranking from No. 61. Georgia State will play in five tournaments this fall, which will help in its efforts to improve upon its ranking.

“I’m extremely excited for our home tournament this year,” Barthel said. “Our own Cesar Vargas is the tournament director and I know he’s going to do a great job. We had a lot of interest, and we’re very happy with who we have. Also, I’m very excited to just get started playing tournaments with our team. We’re going to have a great start with our tournament, where everyone will get a chance to play, and continue it throughout the fall.”

The Georgia State Fall Invitational starts the season on Sept. 20-22 with Nebraska, Georgia Southern and South Alabama. It will be held at the Sharon Lester Tennis Center at Piedmont Park.

“Overall, our schedule is very good,” Barthel said. “It’s strong, yet good for a young team to get used college tennis. Our freshman will do well. Cesar and I are excited to see the upperclassmen lead and represent the team well and with pride.”