TOLEDO - The University of Toledo men's tennis team commences the 2013 season this weekend with three matches in two days. The Rockets will travel to West Lafayette, IN on Saturday for back-to-back matches inside the Schwartz Tennis CenterPurdue at 9:00 a.m. and IUPUI at 2:00 p.m. UT will then head to Indianapolis for a matinee contest against Butler at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
The Rockets have won four of their previous five season openers, including a sweep of Northwestern Ohio and Bradley on Jan. 13, 2012. UT defeated the Racers 6-1 in the first match and took all seven points from the Braves for the sweep. Since 2000, the Rockets have a record of 5-8 in season opening contests under head coach Al Wermer.
"It's been a great first week of practice," Wermer said. "The guys came back very fit. They're hitting the ball well, but most importantly they have a very good outlook. We're staring adversity in the face this weekend with three solid opponents. This challenge will be good for the team and a fun start to our season."
UT is aiming to break its losing streak against Big Ten teams in Saturday's first match. The Rockets have dropped 23 consecutive matches to the Big Ten, including seven previous contests against Purdue. UT last recorded a win over a Big Ten squad when it defeated Indiana on Feb. 4, 2006. The Boilermakers claimed a 1-6 victory over the Rockets in their most recent meeting on Feb. 5, 2010.
The Midnight Blue and Gold have won all eight previous matches versus IUPUI. UT won a tight contest last season in Toledo, 4-3. The Butler match was originally scheduled to be played at the Schwartz Center, but has since been moved to the Bulldog's campus in Indianapolis. UT has won four of the last five matches against Butler, but the Bulldogs lead the all-time series 4-7. The Rockets won last year's match in Toledo, 7-0.
Wermer begins his 17th year at the helm of the men's tennis program. This year's group features three seniors – Terence Weigand, Bryand Dudzik and junior-college transfer Francisco Stuardo. Weigand and Dudzik provide leadership and experience to the lineup, while Stuardo is expected to contribute right away.
Five sophomores fill up the majority of remaining playing spots, including 2012 All-MAC Second Teamer Tomas Stillman. The Harlingen, TX native will be at the top of the lineup following a strong finish in the fall campaign. Stillman advanced to the final round of the 128-player qualifying draw at the USTA Futures Tourney in Niceville, FL back on Nov. 5.
Third-year player Ben Brocker is the lone junior of the group. The southpaw brings leadership and will be heavily counted on this season.
Wermer announced yesterday that freshman Matt Wareti is no longer with the team, reducing the roster to nine players. The Columbus, OH native went 5-2 in singles play last fall.
The Purdue match is a homecoming for UT assistant coach Paul Foley. Foley was a four-year letterwinner from 2007-10. The former Boilermaker helped knock off the Rockets each of his four seasons on the team. Foley won his match at No. 4 the last time the two teams met.