ATLANTA—As the men’s tennis team enters Year 2 as the defending Sun Belt Conference champion, Georgia State will kick-start its spring schedule on Jan. 18, 2014 at 2 p.m.  GSU will play host to Florida Atlantic as the Panthers begin the trail to defend their title.

Georgia State had great success in 2013 in its first year as part of the league. The team was able to earn its first Sun Belt Conference title and its first conference team tennis championship since 2007.

Head coach Joerg Barthel was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year and senior Robert Schulze was awarded Sun Belt Championship Most Outstanding Player. Schulze was named to the All-Sun Belt second team in doubles play. Schulze will return with his partner, Sofiane Chevallier, and try to improve on their No. 58 ITA fall preseason doubles ranking.

However, a repeat of last year’s accomplishments will be no easy task for the Panthers.

“This will be one of the most challenging schedules in program history,” Barthel said. “With having such a young team, this schedule will be a good indicator to them as to where we want to be in the years to come. We want to play the best teams day in and day out and get better. We want to become stronger as a team and as a program.

“A highlight of the season will certainly be the National ITA Kick-Off event at Southern California in January. We were able to win a match in the national tournament last year and want to follow that success up this season. Our main goal will be improving our game and learning how to handle adversity correctly through the matches. Come January, we will be ready.”

Following the home opener against Florida Atlantic, the Panthers will play one more match in Atlanta two days later on Jan. 20 at 1 p.m. against USC Upstate.

The Panthers will be on the road from Jan. 25 to Feb. 2, playing four nationally ranked teams. The first two matches on the road will be in Los Angeles, Calif., followed by a cross country trip to New York. In California, the Panthers will face off with Wichita State and either USC or Santa Clara. In New York, GSU will compete against Columbia and Cornell.

Upon returning home, the men’s tennis team will host six consecutive matches from Feb. 7-23. Among the six opponents, three teams (Wichita, ETSU and Nebraska) are ranked in the ITA Top 75. The team will make a short trip to the Sunshine State to play Stetson and UCF.

After their return from Florida, the Panthers will play seven straight home matches at home and one at Georgia Tech. The team will wrap up its regular season against Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Ga. on Apr. 9, 2014.

The 2013-14 season will heighten with a trip to New Orleans to defend the Sun Belt title. The Sun Belt Championship will run April 17-20. Hoping to earn either another team bid, or individual bids, GSU will shoot for the NCAA Championship from May 15-26 in Athens, Ga.