DELAND, Fla. – The Stetson University men’s tennis team will take the short trip up I-95 this week to take part in the 2014 A-Sun Championship, where it is a No. 4 seed. The Hatters (10-9, 5-3) will take on fifth seeded USC Upstate, Thursday, Apr. 17 at 9 a.m., in Jacksonville.
The Hatters and Spartans hooked up once before this season, Mar. 14 in Spartanburg, with Stetson edging Upstate, 4-3. Fast forward a month later and both squads will be back at it again, but this time on the neutral courts at North Florida.
“Any round in the conference tournament is a difficult one and playing USC Upstate to start off the tournament is no different,” said associate head coach Christophe Noblet. “We came out on top in a close one during our first encounter of the season, so we have to expect a tough match again on Thursday.”
If the Hatters can get by Upstate, they will have No. 1 seeded ETSU waiting for them in the second round. Stetson and the Bucs played the day after the Hatters’ match with Upstate as ETSU won 7-0 in Johnson City.
“The Conference tournament is a challenge on multiple levels,” Noblet added. “You have to play your best tennis while sustaining the pressure, and do all that for three straight days.”
Noblet’s squad played its best tennis during the regular season after taking on the Spartans and Bucs, when they returned home and reeled off wins against Mercer (4-0) and Kennesaw State (5-2), before going on the road to defeat A-Sun foes, Lipscomb (4-1) and Northern Kentucky (6-1) for a four match winning streak.
“We’re going for gold and that four match win streak definitely gives us momentum going into the conference championship,” said senior Hans Adrian Riseng.
Having played just one match (at FGCU) during the past week, Noblet thinks Riseng and the rest of his team is rested and ready for the conference championship.
“The entire team is healthy, which is great news, especially at this time of the year,” Noblet explained. “Moreover, they are hungry to compete and cannot be more excited to jump into tournament play.”
The Hatters will get that chance Thursday, and fans not making the trip to Jacksonville will be able to track live stats via the Atlantic Sun’s official website. Gohatters.com will have Stetson recaps and atlanticsun.org will provide comprehensive championship coverage with up to date brackets and records.
Fans can also follow @StetsonTennis on Twitter, as well as sign up for Hat-Alerts, the athletic department’s official text messaging system for match updates.