January 7, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico men’s tennis program is opening its 2014 season by hosting the first ever Ned and Tina Jacobs Lobo Tennis Winter Kickoff at the Linda Estes Tennis Center, Jan. 17-19.
The three-day event will showcase four quality tennis programs including the University of Arizona, the University of California – Irvine, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, and of course, the Lobos.
Waiting in anticipation for the season opening event is common among college athletes. Yet, this year the season opener is especially exciting for the men’s tennis program. The Ned and Tina Jacobs Lobo Tennis Winter Kickoff is the most unique tennis event to be played at UNM and may even be the most unique spring event in the country.
Why is this event so unique? To start off, it is the first regular season collegiate tennis event that six of the eleven Lobos will compete in. UNM has a lot of young talent and the first event of the season is always especially exciting.
Secondly, the Ned and Tina Jacobs Lobo Tennis Winter Kickoff will feature a rarely used component in college tennis and a completely experimental format.
This event is bringing double-headers back with a bang. It will be a true test of athleticism to compete twice a day for three consecutive days while giving each team more opportunities against quality opponents, which is a unique way to add dollars to budgets.
“Teams still use double-headers, but not three double-headers in three days against quality opponents,” Associate Head Coach Bart Scott said. “We are playing UC - Irvine, Arizona, and Texas - AMCC two times each. Every team will get more bang for their buck with this trip; six matches for the price (cost) of three.”
Lastly, this tournament is going to use a unique tennis format throughout the weekend. The opening event will experiment with a new USTA proposed college tennis format. Instead of the usual format, the event will begin with singles competition and the match will stop once one team gets to four points. This means no more "dead rubbers" (matches played out to completion even though the team match has already been decided).
“If the singles portion finishes up tied 3-3, then the teams will have a doubles overtime,” Scott said. “We will put out three doubles matches to only play a quick 10-point tiebreaker. When one team wins two of these, then the match will be stopped and the team match will be decided. It will be intense, dramatic, and really exciting we hope from the fans’ point of view, as well as the players’ point of view too. ”
The Lobo men’s tennis team is currently ranked No. 72 in the nation as announced by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association on Jan. 2. This tournament will give UNM a chance to gain recognition and will give them a strong start to the upcoming season.
Lobo Samir Iftikhar earned separate recognition from the ITA after being ranked No. 45 in the nation in singles competition. Iftikhar currently holds the highest ranking in the Mountain West. He will be a strong competitor to watch during the tournament as well as throughout the 2014 season.
“To get this kind of quality competition and this amount of matches against quality competition is fantastic and will really set our team up for the rest of the season,” Head Coach Alan Dils said. “It should be a lot of fun for people to come out and just watch tennis all day.”
The men's tennis program is hoping that this event will draw in some new Lobo fans and will show the public what Lobo tennis is all about.
"College tennis can grow dramatically in terms of media and fan support and this experimental format is an opportunity to take a step forward," Deputy Athletic Director Tim Cass said. "I am excited to watch and experience the flow and drama of these matches throughout the weekend. It should be exciting for all the players, coaches and fans."
Admission into the Ned and Tina Jacobs Lobo Tennis Winter Kickoff is free.
FREE PIZZA will be served during the 7:30 p.m. matches on Friday, January 17th. Don't miss out!
COMPLETE EVENT SCHEDULE BELOW: