LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Coming off a program-best season a year ago, expectations are high entering spring 2018 for the Covenant men's tennis team. Head coach John Hirte and his squad take to the courts for the first time this spring on Saturday with a home match against region foe Birmingham Southern at 12 p.m.
The Scots won a program-record 12 matches last season and captured the first regular season conference championship along the way. Covenant was picked as the preseason favorite to win the USA South West Division once again as the Scots return All-USA South players Matthew Harvie and Chris Cox.
Harvie and Cox have led the program over the last three years and look to make a final impact on the program in their senior campaigns. Harvie is a three-time All-USA South first team member and was the conference's player of the year in 2016. Last year, Harvie went 13-4 at the No. 1 singles spot in dual matches. Cox is also a three-time All-USA South honoree and led the team in singles wins with 14 a season ago.
Together, Harvie and Cox have teamed up for 36 doubles wins in dual matches. The tandem is closing in on program career records for doubles play, while also vying the program career singles wins record in dual matches.
The middle and bottom half of the lineups produced last year helping Covenant win close matches and Hirte hopes that to be the case again this year. Sophomore Logan Hull returns after tallying 13 singles wins last year, while fellow sophomore Ben Tonkel had nine victories. Sophomore Trey Wetjen also returns, after coming on strong a season ago and producing six singles victories, as does junior Trey Wood.
The schedule features a challenging non-conference slate mixed with key opponents in USA South play. Covenant will play region foes Birmingham Southern (Feb. 10) at home, but also travel to regional powers Oglethorpe (March 1), Berry (April 4), and Sewanee (April 10).
The Scots also have home dates with Hanover (Feb. 17) and Roanoke (March 9) in region play.
The USA South schedule sees home-and-home contests with each team in the West Division. Play starts in earnest as Covenant travels to LaGrange and Huntingdon on Feb. 23-24. The Scots will face Piedmont, a team that shared the division title with Covenant last year, twice in the span of eight days in March before hosting Huntingdon and LaGrange on March 30-31.
The USA South Tournament will start on April 13 in LaGrange, Ga., as a part of the USA South Spring Sports Festival, hosted by the City of LaGrange and Troup County. The tournament will take place both at the McCluskey Tennis Center and the LaGrange College Varsity Courts. The top three teams from each division will advance to the tournament.
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