St. Louis, Mo.—UMBC men's tennis enters their first ever Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as they travel to Missouri to face Southern Illinois in the quarterfinals.
Southern Illinois Game Day Info:
WHO: UMBC (11-5, 2-0 MVC) vs. Southern Illinois (6-15, 0-3 MVC)
WHEN: Friday, April 17- 4:00 PM ET
WHERE: Westminster Christian Academy Tennis Courts- St. Louis, Mo.
SOCIAL MEDIA: @UMBCAthletics, @UMBCTennis, #TogetherWeCan
Scouting the Retrievers (11-5, 2-0 MVC):
UMBC is coming off a three-match winning streak, including a win in their only conference match of the season over Stony Brook. That victory placed UMBC as the No. 1 seed of the America East division of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament bracket.
The Retrievers are led by a trio of standout junior year players, starting with transfer Jaan Kononov, who has compiled a 9-4 singles record on the season playing exclusively in the No. 1 flight. Classmate Justin Carter finished the regular season with a 9-6 record competing in the top three flights, while Melker Svard completed the campaign with a 10-3 season playing in the Nos. 2 and 3 positions. The Retrievers' other regular starters all finished with impressive seasons as well with junior Alex Drean (9-6), junior Elliott Loubatie (8-4) and senior Daniel Gray (9-6) going into the postseason with winning records.
On the doubles side, the No. 1 flight duo of Drean and Gray look to continue their longstanding successful partnership. Kononov and Svard have teamed up all season mostly in the No. 2 flight this season, compiling a 10-4 record. In the No. 3 flight, Carter and Loubatie are the likely pairing with a 7-3 record when playing together.
Scouting the Salukis (6-15, 0-3 MVC):
Southern Illinois is going into the postseason on a three-match losing streak, having lost all of their conferences matches versus rivals Wichita State, Illinois State, and nationally-ranked Drake.
The Salukis are a top heavy team as their top two players have performed beautifully while the others have been less successful. Leading the charge is junior Jonny Rigby, who owns a 13-6 record in the No. 1 flight, followed closly by sophomore Michal Kianicka with a 13-5 record in the second flight. The Nos. 3-6 flights have combined for a 21-60 record throughout the season.
For their doubles teams, Kianicka and freshman Alex Pozo have dominated in the No. 1 flight with a 10-5 season. The No. 3 flight doubles has been productive this year for the Salukis, finishing at 11-8 on the year from a number of different pairings with Rigby and Szymon Opieczonek accounting for the majority of those wins.
If UMBC is able to pull out a win against Southern Illinois, the Retrievers' semi-final match will be played on Saturday, April 18th at 2:30 PM EDT versus the winner of No. 57 Wichita State and Hartford. No. 31 Drake has a bye into the semi-finals and will meet the Illinois State-Stony Brook winner.