The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s tennis team is back in action for the first time since Jan. 29 with three matches this week. The Mocs have a home dual against Troy between road trips to Jacksonville State and Presbyterian.
UTC dropped its first two against Clemson (0-7) and Alabama (1-6) before shutting down due to COVID-19 issues within the program. The Mocs return to play on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Jacksonville State. First serve against the Gamecocks is set for 1:00 p.m.
(E.S.T.) in Jacksonville, Ala.
“First of all, we are just happy to be back playing matches,” stated head coach Chuck Merzbacher. “The team is looking forward to a busy and compact schedule. The JSU match is the beginning of three matches in five days swing for us. We’ve had historically some very competitive battles with JSU, and I expect nothing less.”
The Gamecocks are 4-1 overall with wins over Jackson State (6-1), Auburn at Montgomery (6-1), North Alabama (7-0) and Spring Hill College (6-1). Their lone loss came against Kennesaw State (2-4) on Feb. 7.
UTC is 26-13 all-time against Jacksonville State in a series that dates back to 1953. The Mocs are 10-6 on the road, but have lost three in a row at JSU. The Gamecocks have won three of the last four meetings, but UTC took the last one 6-1 on March 10, 2019, in Chattanooga. Junior Jacob Marshall and sophomores Tomas Rodriguez and Kerim Hyatt all had singles wins in that one.
Chattanooga plays its first home match of the spring on Friday, Feb. 26, against Troy. First serve is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the UTC Tennis Center. Inclement weather is in the forecast for the weekend, so be sure to check GoMocs.com for any announced changes. A link for live scoring is available on the men’s tennis schedule page on GoMocs.com.
“This team has made a few additions to the roster since we saw them in the fall,” said Merzbacher. “They are playing very well right now. Last year’s tough 3-4 loss was ultra-competitive, and I know the guys are looking forward to playing this one at home. I think the doubles point will be key!”
The Mocs went 18-12 in singles and 11-4 in doubles against the Trojans at the UTC Steve Baras Fall Classic in the October. Troy took five of seven singles and two of three doubles at the MTSU Dale Short Shootout also in October.
Troy has had a very busy spring to-date, posting a 10-1 record. The lone blemish on the slate is a 6-1 loss to North Florida on Feb. 8. They also have a 4-3 win over Samford and a 7-0 win against Mercer.
UTC is winless in five dual matches all-time against the Trojans, including the 3-4 loss on Feb. 28 of last season. Rodriguez and senior Turner Voges had two of the Mocs three points in that loss.
The final match of the weekend is at Presbyterian on Sunday, Feb. 28. First serve is set for 10:00 a.m. in Clinton, S.C. The Blue Hose defeated Mercer 6-1 on Feb. 21 in their only match so far this spring. They host Campbell on Friday.
UTC is 3-1 all-time against Presbyterian, including a 6-1 win in last year’s meeting on Feb. 1 in Chattanooga. The Mocs suffered a 5-2 loss in their last trip to Clinton on Jan. 27, 2019.
“This team is very good at home,” added Merzbacher. “We played well against them last year in Chattanooga, and I’m certain it will be a battle on every court. Again, the doubles point will be important.”