SAINT LEO, Fla. – If you want to be the best, you have to play the best, and in 2016 that might as well be the mantra for the Saint Leo men's tennis team as their schedule features nine of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Top-10 nationally ranked teams. Why not play all ten you might ask? Well the 10th team is the Lions, as they hold the No. 7 ranking heading into the season.
"We knew that playing a tough schedule is ultimately what will prepare us the best for the goals we want to accomplish," said head coach Chris Frusci of the schedule he created for 2016. "The downside to this is that we are risking some more potential losses, but when push comes to shove, these are the teams we need to be playing. It is also more motivating for our players to know that we have big matches week in and out."
Saint Leo will host No. 1 Barry, No. 3 Armstrong State, No. 4 West Florida, No. 5 Landers, and No. 10 Rollins. They will play No. 6 Lynn and No. 9 Valdosta State on the road, and will face No. 2 Hawaii Pacific and No. 8 Concordia (N.Y.) in neutral site action.
"We are just really motivated this season more than ever because of the talent and work ethic that was on display this past fall. Our teams both believe we can achieve great things and that is important for success as well. I'm excited to see what we're made of and looking forward to the challenges ahead."
The Lions will also face six more ITA Division II Top-50 opponents in No. 12 Georgia College, No. 14 Midwestern State, No. 20 North Georgia, No. 29 New York Institute of Technology, No. 30 Palm Beach Atlantic, and No. 37 Florida Tech.
They will also face the ITA Junior College No. 1 team and reigning Junior College National Champion in ASA Miami, and ITA Junior College No. 12 Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. The Lions will also take on the No. 4 team in the NAIA rankings in Auburn-Montgomery.
In matches with unranked opponents, Saint Leo will hit the road to play Flagler and Eckerd, while taking on Metro State in neutral site non-conference action.
February action includes the matches with Georgia College, Valdosta State, ABAC, ASA Miami and Flagler.
The Lions will play a majority of their action in the month of March, alternating home and away for the first couple of game, hosting Armstrong State, heading to Eckerd, hosting Farris State, and playing Concordia (N.Y.) in neutral site action. Saint Leo will then host Auburn-Montgomery, North Georgia, and West Florida before hitting the road for the team's spring break trip to Colorado. While out in Denver, the Lions will face Metro State, Hawaii Pacific, and Midwestern State. They will close the month by hosting NYIT and Rollins, and making a trip to Embry-Riddle.
The month of April will consist of Sunshine State Conference games as the Lions host Barry and Florida Southern, and hit the road for matches at Lynn and Florida Tech. The Lions will also host two non-conference games in Landers and Palm Beach Atlantic prior to wrapping up April with the SSC Tournament in Tampa, Fla.
The Lions, who earned the No. 7 spot in the Nov. 23, 2015, ITA ranking announcement, are coming off an impressive fall season, which saw freshman Alberto Barroso-Campos earn the No. 1 ranked individual in the South Region, and No. 3 nationally. This was the first time in Saint Leo tennis history that an individual has held the No. 1 spot in regional rankings. Senior Alex Theiler and Barroso-Campos paired up in the fall for an impressive inaugural doubles campaign, earning them the No. 2 ranking for South Region doubles teams, and the No. 7 pairing nationally.
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