By Trent McCann
The Furman Paladins Men’s Tennis team kicked off their 2012-13 campaign Sept. 7-10, at the University of Georgia’s forty-fifth annual Southern Intercollegiate Championships, the oldest fall collegiate tennis tournament in the country.
The tournament featured 24 schools from the Southeast region, including powerhouses such as the University of Florida, Mississippi State and Kentucky. The Southern Conference will also be represented by at least one competitor from The Citadel, Georgia Southern and UT-Chattanooga.
The tournament also provides Furman’s squad with an opportunity to test their meddle against some of the larger schools in the region. Furman sent four players to the competition in hopes of outlasting the other hundreds of athletes to obtain the coveted title.
Furman senior Andrew Mellow, a 2012 first-team Southern Conference selection, is ranked thirteenth in the singles bracket, and began play Friday afternoon against Siim Tuus of Liberty University. After a close match, it was Tuus that snatched the victory.
Along with Mellow, upperclassmen Richard Cassagrande, Matt Browne, and Alex Christ were featured in the singles bracket. These four men represent the Paladins in a field that includes hundreds of the best collegiate players from the region. They also represented the Paladins in the doubles bracket.
Head Coach Kelly Jones, a four-time All-American at Pepperdine University in the early 1980s, is opening his second season as the head coach of the Paladins, following last year’s 9-15-1 season where his team reached the SoCon Tournament semi-finals before being eliminated at the hands of the eventual champions, College of Charleston.
Before coming to Furman, Jones put together an impressive resume that includes coaching American professional tennis player James Blake, founding the TennisLMS Institute in Tampa, Florida and in 2009 was inducted into the San Diego Tennis Hall of Fame.
Hopefully, the team can find some ways to improve this season, and a good showing at the Southern Intercollegiate Championships this weekend would be a great step in that direction.