Men's Tennis Hits Road to Face UNC Wilmington
March 5, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. – Dating back to last season, the No. 34 NC State men’s tennis team has won 11 straight home matches, but on Tuesday the Wolfpack (12-1) will try to continue its winning ways on the road when it travels to face No. 39 UNC Wilmington at 1:30 p.m.
The Wolfpack has an ACC-best eight-match winning streak, five of which have come against ranked teams. Impressively, the Pack has won 28 consecutive singles matches without a loss, beginning with the final singles match in a victory over No. 48 South Carolina.
Since then, head coach Jon Choboy’s team has scored 7-0 wins over William & Mary, UNC Greensboro and No. 57 Northwestern and a 6-0 win over No. 36 Virginia Commonwealth. State is 5-1 this season against ranked teams.
The Seahawks (6-2), following their 5-2 victory over No. 33 Memphis on Feb. 26, are 3-2 in matches against ranked teams. UNCW’s two losses are against No. 1 Southern California and South Carolina, a team the Wolfpack beat 5-2 earlier this season that has moved up to No. 22 in the most recent poll.
UNC Wilmington is currently No. 39 in the collegiate tennis rankings. It will be the Wolfpack’s fourth road match against a ranked team. The squad lost to No. 7 Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., and beat No. 59 East Tennessee State in the consolation match of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in a neutral-site decision. The Pack also won at No. 57 Northwestern.
This is the second in a string of seven road matches during an 11-match span for head coach Jon Choboy’s team. The Wolfpack returns home for three in a row at the Isenhour Tennis Center before playing its next five matches, all against ACC opponents, on the road.
The Wolfpack has a strong mix of veteran leadership and talented newcomers. Senior No. 1 player Jaime Pulgar (10-1) is ranked No. 86 nationally. Senior Dominic Hodgson, playing primarily at No. 2, is 6-3 overall. And senior Julian Sullivan (8-1) has won six in a row after suffering his only loss of the season.
Choboy also has three freshmen in his starting lineup who have a combined record of 26-1.
Robbie Mudge of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Austin Powell of Muscle Shoals, Ala., remain undefeated on the season with a combined 20-0, while freshman Beck Bond of Meriden, Conn., has lost just once in his first seven matches.
Mudge (11-0) has won matches at Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4. He’s played the majority of his matches at No. 3, where he is 6-0. He played his first match in the No. 1 slot against UNC Greensboro’s Orcun Seyrek. After losing his first three games, Mudge came back to win 12 of the next 13 games to take a 6-4, 6-0 victory. He has lost only one of his 23 sets this season. Mudge is 17-5 in the fall and spring.
Powell (9-0) has won four matches at No. 4 and four at No. 5. He also won his only match at No. 2 earlier this season. Powell had a successful fall tournament season, posting a 9-4 record in his four tournaments. He has a combined 18-4 record in his initial season.
The righthander has proven to be particularly tough when pushed to the limit. In his initial season with the Wolfpack, he has been pushed to three sets in half of his 22 matches. He lost his first two three-set matches, but has won nine in a row since then, including in his last two outings.
Bond (6-1) lost his first match of the season to South Carolina’s Kyle Koch, 6-2, 6-2, after the overall match had been secured by the Wolfpack. He bounced back to win his next three, improving State’s record in No. 6 singles to 8-2.
Six different players have completed in the No. 4 singles spot for the Wolfpack in the spring and so far none of them have lost while playing there. State is a perfect 12-0 in No. 4 singles this season.
Bond, Mudge, sophomore Ivan Sanchez Gomez and sophomore Sean Weber have all won one match at No. 4, while Powell is 3-0 there and Sullivan is 5-0. Powell has played the last two matches in that slot in the Wolfpack lineup.
The Pack plays its final doubleheader of the season on Saturday, when it hosts non-conference foes Binghamton and Campbell at the Isenhour Tennis Center. Weather permitting, the men’s team will make its debut on the new Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Outdoor Tennis Stadium.
The $3 million stadium was completed in the fall to be the new home of NC State men’s and women’s varsity tennis. Built on the site of the previous facility, the new arena-style venue features six lighted courts, an electronic scoreboard and chairback seating for up to 1,000 fans.
The Wolfpack opens ACC play on March 16 against No. 5 Duke.