CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's tennis team will host the 48th Annual H-E-B Tournament of Champions starting on Friday, Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. at the H-E-B Tennis Center and at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center.
The two-day event is universally respected as one of the most prestigious college team events in the United States known by most as simply, "The H-E-B." The Islanders started running the H-E-B eight years ago and the tournament has received tremendous community support. This season's tournament features SMU, Tulane, Louisiana-Lafayette, DePaul, Western Michigan, South Alabama, UTSA and the Islanders.
A&M - Corpus Christi has competed with great pride at the H-E-B making the finals three times, losing hard fought titles to Texas Tech all three times. Last year, the Islanders made history, clinching the title for the first time in program history. The Islanders broke through defeating No. 30 BYU, 4-1, before topping Louisiana-Lafayette, 4-2, in the semifinals. A&M - Corpus Christi then squeezed out a gutsy 4-3 match over No. 34 Middle Tennessee to claim the championship.
"What makes this event even extra special is the incredible support and generosity it receives from the Corpus Christi tennis community," Director of Tennis Steve Moore said. "This generous Corpus Christi community reaches out to provide housing for players, coaches, athletic trainers and athletics staff for seven different visiting teams as well as umpires."
The Islanders (9-5) will take on South Alabama (7-3) in the opening round at 9 a.m. at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. The team is coming off a 4-3 victory over UT Arlington on Monday at home. The Islanders dropped the doubles point before clawing back to capture four singles matches to win. With the match even at 3-3, freshman Paul Cook grinded out a 7-4 tiebreaker in the second set to secure the match for the Islanders.
Junior Peter Nagy has been outstanding for the Islanders this season in No. 1 singles. On Monday, the junior and co-captain downed UTA's Marek Pesicka 6-1, 6-0, to improve to 10-2 in the No. 1 spot. He has now won nine of his last 10 matches in singles play. In No. 2 singles, Ricardo Mayagoitia is 6-3 on the year while Guillaume Rauseo is 7-3 in No. 3 singles. Highlighting doubles play is the freshman-senior duo of Cook and Matt Westmoreland in No. 2 doubles. The tandem is 4-2 on the year after starting the season out 4-0.
The Jaguars come into Friday's first round of play on a three-match winning streak after claiming wins over Mercer, Jacksonville State University and Southern Miss. South Alabama has also sealed wins against Florida A&M, Nicholls, Jackson State and Alabama State. The Jaguars' three losses have come against No. 36 Florida State, Furman and North Florida. Daniel Leitner, who is tied for 94th in the ITA singles rankings, leads the team with a 16-4 overall record, including a 9-0 record in No. 1 singles.
The last time the two teams met up was last season on March 4, 2013, after the Islanders clinched the H-E-B Tournament of Champions title. The Islanders blanked the Jaguars 4-0 at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. A&M – Corpus Christi took two out of the three doubles matches before garnering three singles victories. Returners Rauseo and Mayagoitia each captured straight-set victories to help lift the Islanders to victory.
The other teams competing this weekend are No. 67 Louisiana-Lafayette (8-2), DePaul (2-5), SMU (5-5), Western Michigan (7-5), UTSA (3-7) and Tulane (6-2). The Roadrunners have a ranked doubles pair, Joel Rubio and Tomas Stillman, are ranked No. 27 in the ITA doubles rankings.
"The crowd support has also been tremendous with the 4 p.m. Friday match often having hundreds of fans over the last eight years," Moore said. "Another highlight of the tournament we all look forward to is the players dinner Friday night put on by Marco and Cathy Mattolini from Marco and Co. Catering. This dinner is talked about by visiting coaches all year long as we see each other throughout the year at the tournaments we play.
"I cannot begin to thank Marco Mattolini and the Corpus Christi community for their generosity and support that makes 'The HEB' perhaps the most prestigious college team tournament in the United States."
Friday, Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. – Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. DePaul
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs. South Alabama
Friday, Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. – HEB Tennis Center
SMU vs. Western Michigan
UTSA vs. Tulane
Friday, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. – Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center
Louisiana-Lafayette/DePaul winner vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi/South Alabama winner
Louisiana-Lafayette/DePaul loser vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi/South Alabama loser
Friday, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. – HEB Tennis Center
SMU/Western Michigan winner vs. UTSA/Tulane winner
SMU/Western Michigan loser vs. UTSA/Tulane loser
Saturday, March 1 at 12 p.m. – Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center
Saturday, March 1 at TBA
3rd place match
5th place match
7th place match
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