Tennis to Face Most Competitive Schedule in Program History in 2012-13

Zips Tennis 2012-13 Schedule

AKRON, Ohio
– An appearance in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's prestigious Kick-Off Weekend and matches against seven opponents that were nationally ranked at the end of last season highlight the 2012-13 schedule for the two-time defending Mid-American Conference champion University of Akron tennis team, head coach Brandon Padgett announced on Friday.

"We are excited about the significant increase in difficulty of this year's schedule, and know that it will fully prepare us for our conference season," Padgett said. "This is by far the most difficult schedule in our history, and is a natural course of action as we work hard at moving our program forward."

For the second-straight season, the Zips will start the fall component of their schedule at the Collegiate Clay Court Championships in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 14-16. Last season at that event, UA's Zara Harutyunyan (who has completed her eligibility) and Prang Pantusart (a senior in 2012-13) claimed the title of the doubles main draw, and Harutyunyan finished as runner up in the singles main draw.

A trip to Philadelphia to compete in Penn's Cissie Leary Invitational comes the following weekend (Sept. 21-23), before an appearance by select Zips student-athletes in the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif., on Sept. 29-Oct. 7.

The Riviera event, in which the Zips have participated each of the last three years, overlaps the team's participation in the Spartan Invitational at Michigan State on Oct. 5-7. At the 2011 Spartan Invite, Zip Ksenia Berestetska (a junior in 2012-13) was crowned champion of flight C singles as she helped the squad close out the three-day tournament with a 23-9 overall record.

The Zips' fall schedule concludes in Champaign, Ill., where they will compete in the ITA Midwest Regional, hosted by Illinois, on Oct. 18-23.

Akron's spring schedule features 11 home matches, including visits by Big 10 foe Penn State (Jan. 20) and Pac-12 opponent Oregon (Feb. 17). PSU, which the Zips defeated on the road in 2010 and 2011, finished last season ranked 51st by the ITA, while Oregon ended the year listed 67th on that list.

"The ability to have a home schedule such as this is exceptional," Padgett said. "It will provide our fans, the University, and the Akron community with the opportunity to see some of the country's best tennis programs in person."

The Zips get their dual slate going with a two-match homestand as they face Middle Tennessee State on Jan. 18 and Penn State two days later.
 
For the first time, UA will participate in ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Jan. 26-27. The team will travel to Los Angeles, one of 16 regional sites, to compete against host school USC, Tulane and UC Irvine. USC closed out the 2012 season with a national semifinal appearance and was ranked No. 4 nationally, while Tulane was listed No. 58 and UC Irvine finished No. 68 in the ITA's national poll.

Another two-match homestand comes next as Missouri (Feb. 1) and Princeton (Feb. 3) visit. Princeton was ranked 70th nationally at the end of last season.

A road doubleheader versus Dayton and Wright State takes place on Feb. 9, prior to another two-match homestand on Feb. 15 and 17 against East Tennessee State and Oregon, respectively.

A four-match road swing takes the Zips to New Jersey Institute of Technology (Feb. 23), Columbia (Feb. 24), Bethune-Cookman (March 10) and Stetson (March 11). Columbia boasted a ranking of No. 75 at the conclusion of last season.

MAC play begins at home versus Northern Illinois on March 22. That will be a busy day for the Zips as they also play host to Oakland in a non-league matchup that night.

A road trip to Ball State (March 29) and Miami (Ohio) (March 30) come before home meetings with Bowling Green (April 5) and Western Michigan (April 6). Miami is the league's defending regular-season champion and lost to Akron 4-3 in the MAC tournament championship in consecutive seasons. Additionally, the RedHawks have been responsible for the Zips' only loss in league play in each of the last three years.

The regular season closes with road matchups at Buffalo (April 13), Toledo (April 19) and Eastern Michigan (April 20). The conference championship will be held on the Ball State campus in Muncie, Ind., on April 26-28, with the winner earning the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Championships.

Akron returns five letterwinners from last season's championship team, which finished the campaign with a 24-4 overall record (7-1 MAC), the most victories in a season for the program since the 1990-91 squad went 26-6. Two freshmen will join the squad in the fall – Madison Cohen from Huntingdon Valley, Pa., and Signe Lazdina, a native of Latvia, who attended high school in Plantation, Fla.

"We have our sights set on winning our third MAC championship, and making a third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament," Padgett said. "This schedule will provide us with the best opportunity to fight for those accomplishments."