Many of our Aussie college players already kicked off their 2023 spring season on the first weekend of January. Florida State University (#16) opened their season in Honolulu with wins over Hawai’i and California Berkely, 7-0 and 5-2 respectively.
Melbourne’s Alex Bulte defeated Hawai’i’s Karl Collins 6-4, 6-1 at #6 singles to help the Seminoles win their first match of the season against the Warriors. “I thought my performance was pretty good, said Bulte. “I kind of got the nerves out pretty quickly and got the job done pretty easily in the end. I was happy with my performance and the overall team performance was great”.
The men’s team arrived back in Tallahassee earlier this week after an 11 hour flight from Honolulu and will spend this week preparing for their first home match against Georgia (#7) which is set for January 15. “A big match this weekend against Georgia; we beat them last year in the round of 32 to make the sweet 16 so I'm sure they’re pretty hungry to beat us this year. They’ve obviously got one of the best teams in the country and obviously we think of ourselves as being one of the best teams in the country as well so we’re heading into this week with a full week of training and a full week of recovery from the long flight from Hawai’i”.
Brisbane’s Pat Harper has helped Tennessee (#6) win their opening matches against Charlotte (w. 6-1) and Texas Tech (w. 7-0) on January 8th. Harper played alongside Japan’s Shunsuke Mitsui at #1 doubles in both matches where they won their first match 6-4 and were unfinished at 5-5 against Charlotte and Texas Tech respectively. “It was pretty big getting the doubles point and we're expected to beat those teams,” Harper said. “When you come out and crushing the doubles point, it kind of gives them like no hope for the singles and allows you to step on them a bit more”.
The Queenslander has found great success on the doubles court during his career at Knoxville where he won the 2021 NCAA Doubles Championships with recent graduate Adam Walton, where they both reached a high doubles ranking of #1 in the country. “This season will be a bit different not having Waltz alongside me,” Harper said. “I played with him for two years straight, which was really, really fun, enjoyed every minute of it”.
The volunteers will take on Michigan on Thursday, January 19th in Ann Arbor, Michigan at 5:00PM Eastern Time. “We've got high hopes this year, and for me it's It's my last go round, so I'd like to go out on a bang”.
Moving up to the northern part of the country, Melbourne’s Tom Ciszewski is finishing his final year at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), an NCAA Division 1 college in the Horizon League Conference who Cizewski said finished 2nd in their conference in 2022. “Last year, obviously I wasn’t here at IUPUI but obviously looking to turn that around this year”.
The Jaguars had tough opening matches against Notre Dame and De Paul last Friday, January 13th going down 1-6 in both matches, and will play against Butler on Monday in Indianapolis. “I think we can do really good this year” said Ciszewski. “If we play well, there’s not really any team we can’t beat”.
On the women’s side, Warrnambool’s Eloise Swarbrick is entering her Sophomore Year at Middle Tennessee State University. The Blue Raiders had tight losses against Liberty and Florida Gulf Coast last weekend going down 3-4 against both schools in their season opening matches. They will play Austin Peay on January 22nd in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at 11:00 Central Time. Other season openers on the women’s side include Adelaide’s JJ Chen at Montana State University as they take on Chicago State on January 17th in Chicago, Illinois