May 23, 2018 9:58:47 AM
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- With the team competition in the books, the Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Alabama men's and women's tennis teams will kick off individual and doubles play Wednesday at the NCAA Championships at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
This is the first time MSU has received multiple singles bids since 2013. Nuno Borges enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed, while Giovanni Oradini received an at-large bid.
Borges, a two-time All-American and a 2017 NCAA singles semifinalist, will face UCLA's Keegan Smith, who is ranked 56th nationally, in the first round.
Borges, a two-time SEC Player of the Year, enters the tournament with a 23-6 record. In his last national tournament in the fall, Borges downed six ranked foes--all in straight sets--en route to capturing the 2017 ITA National Fall Championships' singles crown.
Smith played at No. 3 singles as a freshman in 2018. He leads UCLA with a 40-6 mark (25-2 in dual matches), including a 17-2 record at No. 3 singles. He has won 17 matches in a row.
Oradini, who is ranked 23rd, will face Stanford's ninth-ranked Tom Fawcett at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Oradini leads the Bulldogs with a 31-11 singles mark. He has won six singles matches in a row, and 13 of his last 15.
Fawcett has won six of his last seven matches. He led the Cardinal from the No. 1 singles spot and had a 20-5 record (11-4 in dual matches).
Borges and Strahinja Rakic are the top seed in the doubles draw, which begins Thursday. Borges and Rakic will face Louisville's 18th-ranked Chris Morin-Kougoucheff and Parker Wynn at a time to be determined.
The NCAA Individual Championships feature the top 64 singles players and top 32 doubles teams. All matches will feature a best-of-three-sets format. Like the regular-season, no-ad scoring and a seven-point tiebreaker at six-games-all will be used. Unlike the regular season, doubles will not only feature more than one set, but a potential third set would be decided by a 10-point match super-tiebreaker.
n In related news, Borges received the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership and Sportsmanship Award.
Borges received the honor Tuesday at the ITA awards banquet at Wake Forest's BB&T Field. He joins Marco Baron (2001) as the only Bulldogs to receive the national award.
"This is such a tremendous honor for Nuno," MSU coach Matt Roberts said. "He exemplifies all of the qualities that are required for this award. He's an outstanding scholar-athlete with incredible character and is very involved in the community as well. He has been a great leader for us this year, and I'm very proud of him."
The Arthur Ashe award is annually presented to those tennis student-athletes who exhibit outstanding on-court results, scholastic and extracurricular achievements, sportsmanship, leadership and character, and humanitarian concern.
"I'm very thankful for this great honor," Borges said. "It's incredibly humbling to earn this award named after such a great tennis player."
Borges was one of 11 members of the SEC Community Service Team for men's tennis. The junior has attended monthly M-Club meetings and has served in numerous community service efforts throughout the Starkville community.
In April, Borges earned MSU's men's sports overall Newsom Award, which is given to the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average.
Ole Miss' Sandkaulen, Fallert ready to open play
Ole Miss sophomore Tim Sandkaulen (24-12) will face No. 1 seed, Martin Redlicki of UCLA, at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in his opening match. It will be the first meeting between the players.
Redlicki is 25-6 overall and 16-4 at No. 1 singles.
Sandkaulen will team with junior Fabian Fallert in the doubles championship Thursday. They will face No. 23 Runhao Hua and Alex Knight of Michigan in the first round at a time to be determined.
After rising to their current ranking of No. 17, Fallert was sidelined for three weeks due to injury, so Sandkaulen teamed with senior Grey Hamilton.
Sandkaulen is one of two players to be ranked inside the top 25 with two partners. He and Hamilton earned a ranking of No. 22.
Ole Miss' Hartono, Bortles set to begin play
Ole Miss senior Arianne Hartono (31-6) is seeded No. 6 and will face No. 20 ranked Vladica Babic of Oklahoma State at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
It will be a rematch of a meeting earlier this year at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in which Hartono defeated Babic 6-0, 6-4 at No. 1 singles to lead the Rebels to a 4-1 win and a spot in the ITA National Team Indoor.
Babic, the ITA Central Region Senior Player of the Year, enters the tournament with a 26-6 record.
Hartono will team with sophomore Alexa Bortles in the doubles championship Thursday. The 5-8 seeded duo will face Georgia Lawson and Emma Wilson of Fresno State in the first round at a time to be determined. Hartono and Bortles have a 22-12 record.
Hartono and Bortles earned All-America honors as a result of being seeded in singles and doubles. Hartono is a two-time All-American, while Bortles earned the honor for the first time.
Alabama's Osama kicks off play today
Alabama junior Mazen Osama will take on No. 51 Aswin Lizen of Virginia in the first round at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Osama, the No. 10 singles player in the country, earned a national seed in the tournament.
Osama and partner sophomore Edson Ortiz will take on No. 25 Mikael Torpegaard and Martin Joyce of Ohio State on Thursday at a time to be announced. Osama and Ortiz are 16-8 at No. 1 doubles.
In his first appearance in the singles tournament, Osama is 15-7. He has nine wins against nationally ranked opponents in the No. 1 spot.
The Cairo, Egypt native, is the first Alabama men's tennis All-American since 2001.
Lizen (30-6) had the highest win tally for the Cavaliers this season. He was ranked as high as No. 10 in singles this spring. He went 12-1 in singles in the fall and opened the spring winning his first eight singles matches to start the year 20-1. Lizen was 18-5 this spring in singles, including posting a 9-3 record in conference matches.
The winner of the match will face TCU's Trevor Johnson or Vanderbilt's Daniel Valent in the second round Thursday.
A live stream and live stats will be available for the matches through the tournament central page on Wake Forest's website.
n In related news, Osama was named the ITA National Player to Watch, the organization announced Tuesday morning. Osama is the first Alabama player to win the national award.
1. Heritage Academy turns tables on Starkville Academy in 21-7 victory HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Redshirt sophomore guard Allen leaves MSU COLLEGE SPORTS
4. No. 22 Bulldogs know what to expect from No. 5 Tigers COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Full-time load pushes MSU's Price closer to return COLLEGE SPORTS