CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Men’s Tennis (2-0) will look to continue its good fortune at LifeTime Fitness when the Niners host UNC Asheville on Sunday, January 21 at 12 p.m. noon.
With the weather and temperature, the Niners opened their 2024 dual match season at LifeTime Fitness indoor courts last week with wins against Queens and The Citadel.
Live statistics will be available for the pair of men’s tennis matches this weekend. Live video will not be available at LifeTime Fitness.
LAST TIME OUT
The Niners downed Queens, 5-2, last Saturday, and then completed a 7-0 rout of The Citadel the next day. Matias Iturbe is leading the way at the No. 1 singles spot, where he has racked up two victories. Iturbe provided the doubles clinching point and the match point in singles against Queens. Ivan Dreycopp clinched the match against Queens, he was one of five straight-set victories for the Niners.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
This is the spring opener for UNC Asheville after participating in four events in the fall, including the Charlotte Fall Invitational. In the Niners’ home event back in September, Charlotte went 6-1 against the Bulldogs, which included four straight-set victories in singles competition.
Head Coach Matt Frost enters his first spring campaign with the Bulldogs and he returns all but one player from last season’s 9-10 squad. 2023 First Team All-Big South Singles selection Sam Nicholson and 2023 Second Team All-Big South Doubles pair Jon Brann Reid and Rafa Serra highlight the returners as UNC Asheville was predicted to finish third in the five-team Big South. Nicholson earned the honors after leading the team with 14 singles victories as a freshman in 2022-23. Reid and Serra teamed up to win eight matches at No. 1 last season.
Frost arrived to UNC Asheville after spending two seasons shaping Division II Tusculum University Women’s and Men’s Tennis into nationally-ranked programs.
Charlotte is 6-1 all-time against UNC Asheville. The Niners have won the last six matchups between the two schools after dropping the first-ever meeting against the Bulldogs. The last time these two schools faced off was a 6-1 victory for the Niners on February 18, 2023 in Asheville, N.C. Last season, Coy Simon, Matias Iturbe, and Ivan Dreycopp all recorded victories as the Niners took singles courts one through five.
The first-ever meeting was on March 4, 2011, which the Bulldogs won 5-1. Krzysztof Kwasniewicz gave Charlotte a point at the No. 5 singles slot.
CHARLOTTE PREPARED FOR THE SPRING
The 23-match spring schedule is highlighted by the five 2023 NCAA Tournament participants, six fellow American Athletic Conference programs, and eight teams ranked in the top 75 of last season’s year-end ITA rankings. After opening the slate with three matches in Charlotte, the Niners will play six straight road matches from January 27 to February 11.
The next home stretch is from Feb. 17 to Feb. 25 and it features South Carolina State, a 2023 NCAA Tournament participant, and Liberty, the reigning 2023 NIT Champions.
Of Charlotte’s final six matches, four were either ranked in the ITA Top 75 or made the NCAA Tournament in 2023. Fortunately, the Niners will get three of those four stout opponents at home. Charlotte hosts Presbyterian on March 29. The Blue Hose went 16-10 last season and qualified for the 2023 NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning the 2023 Big South Championship. Two days later, the Niners will host AAC foe Rice
NINERS INCREASE FIREPOWER
After returning seven players from last year and adding Spencer Gray from Auburn in the fall, the Niners have brought even more talent to the Queen City. Graduate transfer Alex Richards arrives from Wichita State as a touted doubles player and junior Frederic Schlossmann from Austin Peay.
Richards played four seasons with the Shockers and recorded an overall record of 42-31 in doubles competition, including 29 wins at the No. 1 slot. He ranked as high as No. 49 in the ITA national double rankings. Richards advanced to the doubles quarterfinals of the ITA Central Region Championships twice in the fall of 2021 and 2022.
Schlossmann was a two-time all-conference selection with the Governors. For his sophomore season in 2021-22, Schlossmann exclusively occupied the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles spots and was named a first-team All-Ohio Valley selection after leading Austin Peay with eight doubles victories and six singles wins in the spring.
The Niners played in five events in the 2023-24 fall season, compiling a 48-34 mark in singles competition and a 22-11 record in doubles play. In the final tournament of the fall, the Wake Forest Invitational, Ivan Dreycopp defeated a nationally ranked player, a preseason top-75 player from Princeton. In the same event, Matias Iturbe went 4-0 to claim the B1 singles flight title.
Brett Gloria finds himself ranked among the top-125 players after a perfect 6-0 fall. He is ranked 117th in the most recent (Nov. 15) ITA Singles’ Ranking. Iturbe finished the fall with a team-high 11 singles victories (11-3 record) and a team-high nine doubles wins (9-3). Ivan Dreycopp was 8-3 in doubles play in the fall.
LAST SEASON’S YOUTH, THIS SEASON’S STRENGTH
In 2022-23, this Niners squad featured three freshmen, two sophomores, and a senior embarking on a 25-match Spring schedule that included six Power Five foes and 10 ranked opponents. Four Niners made their collegiate dual match debuts last season. Now entering this season, seven players return from last year’s 9-14 squad that experienced the program’s first-ever appearance at ITA Kickoff Weekend and defeated NCAA Tournament hopeful, Texas Tech, 4-3. In the match against the Red Raiders, then-sophomores Simon and Prata picked up victories at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, while then-freshmen Iturbe and Dreycopp recorded wins at No. 4 and No. 5 singles, respectively. All four of those players are returning.
The 2023-24 version of the 49ers are also bolstered by a healthy Prata, who missed the majority of the 2023 spring season due to a hand injury. With Prata (17-5 in dual match play as a freshman) injured, Charlotte was left without its No. 2 singles player and erased its best doubles pair last season.
A NEW CONFERENCE, A NEW ERA
Charlotte’s Men’s Tennis is now a member of the American Athletic Conference and the 2023-24 season will be the Niners’ first season in the AAC after 10 seasons in Conference USA. The program was previously apart of C-USA from 1995 to 2005 before being a member of the Atlantic-10 from 2006 to 2013.
The new goal for the Green & White will be to bring an AAC Championship back to the Queen City. With Bailey at the helm, Charlotte has made three Conference USA Tournament appearances, including the first appearance in the Conference USA title match in program history. The Niners’ lone conference tournament title came when they won three games in three days at the 2007 Atlantic 10 Tournament, which advanced Charlotte to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in history.
After opening the spring season with three straight home matches, Charlotte will take a trip to Blacksburg, Va. to play Virginia Tech and Radford in a pair of contests next Sunday, January 28.