Despite a difficult start to the season, the University of Memphis men’s tennis team (1-3, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) seek to maintain momentum after a 4-0 sweep over the Utah State Aggies last Sunday.
The Tigers' victory came after a 0-4 sweep by No. 21 Virgina the day before, with both matches played in Charlottesville, Va. The previous two losses came from a close 3-4 score against the Indiana Hoosiers and a 4-2 result versus the Northwestern Wildcats earlier this month. This start is the complete opposite compared to their 2019 spring season start, when they started with a 5-0 record.
Also adding to the difference to this year’s campaign is the change of venues due to renovations to the Leftwich Tennis Center, as it will be the new home for both Memphis men and women’s tennis next year. After men’s head coach Paul Goebel’s squad had 11 true home matches at the now-closed Racquet Club of Memphis, fans will only see the Tigers with eight games in the 901 with their first not coming until March 1. This comes at the start of conference play against the Temple Owls, and their last six matches of the regular season will be played in Memphis.
In the middle of a nine-game road stretch to start the year, the most successful tandem in the weekend was senior Jan Pallares and sophomore Patrick Sydow as they were the only side to earn any victory against the Cavaliers in a 6-4 decision. The Spanish-speaking pair nearly swept their Utah State opponents in a 6-1 result the following day.
While this duo is a perfect 2-0 so far after four games, Pallares is undefeated in every doubles match this year. He also competed with freshman James Story (Indiana and Northwestern) in the first two outings.
James is the younger sibling of redshirt senior Matt Story, and as the only newcomer to the squad he is already seen as an important part to this Memphis lineup. James has already seen action at the No. 1 spot in the first game of the season falling in three sets (6-3, 5-7, 3-6), and he then moved into the No. 2 spot the following match, dropping the decision against Northwestern’s Steven Forman (2-6, 5-7).
Another doubles tandem to keep an eye on is Oscar Cutting and David Stevenson as they came in the 2020 season with a No. 21 ranking. While they did not earn their first win this year until the recent Utah State bout, they did finish the 2018/2019 season with a 14-12 overall record.
Memphis fans can take an hour and a half drive down I-22 to see them in action against Oklahoma State this Saturday night. The reason for a close drive is they will be playing at Ole Miss’s indoor tennis courts in Oxford. The No. 14 ranked Cowboys enter the contest with a 4-1 record and will play Ole Miss Friday night beforehand. Their lone loss comes from No. 18 ranked Columbia in a 0-4 sweep.
The Tigers face the Oklahoma State at the William F. Galtney Indoor Tennis Center with a scheduled 7 p.m. start time, and the game is free for all.
Jan Pallares celebrates after winning a set during his singles match against LSU on Feb. 10, 2019.
Jan Pallares (front) and Patrick Sydow (back) on Jan. 20, 2019 against Jackson State University. The Memphis Tigers do not have a home match until March 1, 2020.