Men's tennis team cracks ITA preseason rankings again - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Men's tennis team cracks ITA preseason rankings again

News Release from UNCW:

WILMINGTON, North Carolina – UNCW is prominent once again in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason men's rankings, landing at No. 44 in the national poll with three players in the individual rankings.

"We appreciate the coaches around the country recognizing our program," said seventh-year UNCW Head Coach Mait DuBois. "We will take confidence form this and stay focused on making strides forward."

The Seahawks, who finished 43rd in last spring's final balloting, are the only Colonial Athletic Association team on the list and one of six state schools featured with Duke (7), Wake Forest (19), N.C. State (35), North Carolina (43), UNCW (44), Elon (64).

It marks the fourth consecutive year the Seahawks have been ranked in the top-50 at the beginning of the spring campaign. The Seahawks were ranked 14 times in the 16 weekly polls last year and soared to as high as No. 37 on Feb. 19, 2013.

Individually, senior standout Rafael Aita of Lima, Peru, is rated No. 42 in singles and is joined by junior Sam Williams of Bristol, England, at No. 15 on the doubles list. Aita breaks into the national limelight for the third straight year and earned a top-20 ranking in doubles with Williams, giving the Seahawks a top-20 doubles team for the second straight year.

"Rafael has been consistently in the national rankings and that's very impressive," added DuBois. "He had a good fall and was very close to a phenomenal one. He has worked hard on making his game more aggressive and transitioning to an all-court style player. The real payoff will come this spring and we're looking forward to seeing how good he can become."

Aita and Williams are the highest ranked doubles team in the state. The tandem punched their ticket to the ITA National Men's Tennis Indoor Championships in Flushing, N.Y., in the fall by completing an unbeaten run in the ITA Carolina Regional at Cary Tennis Park. The team beat opponents from Elon, Duke, North Carolina, South Carolina and N.C. State en route to the championship.

"Rafael and Sam have been a very good doubles pair for us and I was pleased to see them get recognized so highly. We're very excited about having a doubles team in the top-20 again and look forward to seeing what they can accomplish this spring."

UNCW captured its third Colonial Athletic Association championship in 2013 and advanced to the NCAA Regionals in Durham, where the Seahawks stunned South Carolina before succumbing to Duke.

The Seahawks open their spring season on Sunday, Jan. 19, with a home match at Noon against Appalachian State.

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