Sept. 7, 2005
Columbia, S.C. – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association released its fall 2005 preseason individual rankings this week, and two South Carolina men’s tennis players were included in the national poll. Senior Tom Eklund, who advanced to the NCAA Singles Championships last season, is ranked 15th in the country, while sophomore Jaime Cuellar joins the rankings at No. 83.
Eklund, who was named to first team All-SEC and captured two SEC Player of the Week awards in 2005, fell to All-American and now-No. 3 ranked Benjamin Kohlloeffel of national champion UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Singles Championships in May.
Cuellar had a sensational year as a true freshman in 2005, posting a team-best 28 singles victories, including a 14-match unbeaten streak from January into late March, and becoming the first freshman to lead the team in victories since Vladimir Pavicevic led the 1998 squad with a mark of 37-18. His 52 combined singles and doubles wins are the best by a freshman since Pavicevic in 1998, and rank in the top-10 for freshmen in USC history.
USC’s Pedro Rodrigues, a junior from Brazil, likely would have been ranked in both singles and in doubles (along with his partner, and fellow Brazilian, senior Geraldo Knorr), but will not compete in the fall semester. Rodrigues, who played No. 2 singles for USC most of the 2005 season, will return for the spring semester and the 2006 dual match season.
Among other notes on the nation’s first rankings of 2005:
— All of the Top 25 players in the preseason poll made the NCAA Singles Championships.
— The Top 25 includes nine 2005 All-Americans and five players who were seeded in the 2005 NCAA Singles Championships.
— In the doubles rankings, four of the teams earned All-American honors in 2005, and three teams were seeded in the NCAA Doubles Championships.
— In addition to Rodrigues, other notables sitting out the fall season, and therefore not in the preseason rankings, include last year’s NCAA Singles runner-up, Patrick Ysern of San Diego and half of the defending national champion doubles squad, Antonio Ruiz of Georgia.
The Gamecocks open their fall season September 23-25 at the Southern Collegiate tournament in Athens, Ga.