Our Aussies have been in full flight this past week which included a number of back-to-back matches, double headers and some great upsets!
Many of the women’s matches will kick off next week which include Tennessee (#22) as they open their season at the ITA Kickoff Weekend against Wake Forest in Columbus, Ohio.
Sydney’s Catherine Aulia will play her first season for the Volunteers and adds to the rich Australian history of players at Tennessee such as JP Smith and most recently Tennika McGiffin and Adam Walton. Montana State, a member of the Big Sky Conference, will play a double-header against Boise State and Lewis-Clark State in Boise, Idaho. Adelaide’s JJ Chen is part of the starting line-up and is hoping to break a five match losing streak against the Bronco’s.
Brisbane’s Casey Hoole, a Sophomore at the University of South Carolina (#8) helped the Gamecocks clinch a 4-3 victory over 18th ranked North Carolina, their first win against the Tar Heels since 2002. “The whole team was stoked today,” Hoole said. “Last year we had a bit of a heart breaker against them. “I think we lost ten in a row, I think it’s been 20 years; 2002 was the last time we beat them so it was an unbelievable feeling”.
Hoole played on the #3 doubles court alongside Frenchman Rephael Lambling where they won their doubles opener 6-3. The first team to win two doubles courts earns their team a point, followed by six singles matches which totals seven points that are up for grabs. “It was the first test of the season”, Hoole said. “I thought doubles was pretty good, I thought we were pretty good in the big moments which is always important in such a short format.
Whoever gets those deuce points and those big points normally wins”. Hoole went down in a tough battle against Chris Li from Peru at #5 singles. “I felt like I didn’t really play my best but I thought the guy I played had a good match but I think it’s something I'll keep improving over the next few weeks if we get to play more matches. The Gamecocks will next play against University of Pennsylvania on January 28.
Moving to the southern part of the United States, we caught up with Melbourne’s Cooper White last week who is in his Sophomore Year at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando. The Knights are currently 1-1 for the season after splitting with Florida (#17) and Georgia Southern last weekend. Cooper played in their opening match against the Florida Gators on Saturday at #3 doubles partnering Mehdi Benchakroun from Morocco where they went down 6-1 and eventually lost the entire match for the day. “It was a tough match”, White said. We obviously had a tough one against Florida on Saturday. I played doubles, we didn’t obviously have the greatest doubles point; we went down on two courts pretty quickly including myself”.
The Knights will fly up to Columbus where they will play second ranked Ohio State University in Columbus. “Our coaches have told us just to have a mentality that it’s a good opportunity to play (against) good schools”, White said. “We know that we can hang with the top schools. It's just a matter of winning those big points and trying to compete on all courts and try and scrape four wins though.
The ITA Kickoff Weekend begins on Saturday as there are key matches that we will be following. Tulsa will battle it out against Oregon as Sydney’s Kody Pearson will play Traralgon’s Josh Charlton; both of whom represented Australia at the World University Games in France last month. Melbourne’s Chase Ferguson who is playing his senior year for Oklahoma State University will take on North Carolina, who was upset by South Carolina last weekend.