HARRISONBURG, Va. - The James Madison men's tennis team will begin its spring season on Sunday, Jan. 20 when the Dukes face off against No. 31 VCU and Richmond in the VCU 4x1 Invitational in Richmond, Va. JMU will first meet the Rams, former conference foes, at 1 p.m. before taking on the Spiders at 5 p.m. at the Thalhimer Tennis Center.
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason rankings list VCU as the 31st-best team in the country. The Rams were last year's Colonial Athletic Association champions in their final season in the league. The VCU line-up features two players in the top-100 singles players and the No. 36-ranked doubles team.
The Dukes will continue pushing themselves when they make a stop in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Saturday, Feb. 9 to take on No. 18 North Carolina. The Tar Heels, who fell in the semifinal round of the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, have three returning starters from last season, including No. 18 Esben Hess-Olesen. Olesen and teammate Nelson Vick are the preseason No. 44 doubles team in the nation.
Hofstra will be JMU's first conference matchup of the spring season. The Pride will host the Dukes in their own conference-opener on Friday, Feb. 15 in Hempstead, N.Y. Overall, JMU will face six CAA opponents during the regular season, leading up to the CAA Championships April 19-21 in Williamsburg, Va.
JMU will open its home slate on Sunday, March 3 when the Bison of Howard University come to Harrisonburg for a 1:00 p.m. matchup. It will be the first of four home events on the Dukes' 2013 spring docket. JMU will also host the University of Maryland-Baltimore County on Sunday, March 24, Binghamton on Wednesday, March 27, and Radford on Wednesday, April 3.
Spring competition is comprised of dual-style matchups between two schools while the fall season is filled with individual tournament-style play. In dual competition, teams look to earn the majority of seven points on the day from six singles matches, each worth a point, and three doubles matches, with the winner of two of the three taking the doubles point.
The Dukes are coming off a fall campaign of four tournaments that culminated with a trip to the ITA Atlantic Regionals in Charlottesville, Va. in mid-October. As a team, JMU went 38-34 in singles matches at fall tournaments and 18-10 in doubles matches.
Senior Ryan Pool will help lead the charge this spring after going 11-2 in singles competitions in the fall, including a 9-0 start and winning two flight titles (East Carolina University Fall Shootout and Elon University Invitational). He was the lone Duke to play in the Round of 32 at the 2012 ITA Atlantic Regionals. He enters his senior spring with a 50-22 singles career record at JMU.
Pool also teamed up with freshman Robert Stirling to tally a 10-1 record over four tournaments, with their only loss coming in the Round of 16 of the 2012 ITA Atlantic Regionals.
As a singles competitor, Stirling went 6-6 in his first fall campaign as a college athlete and advanced to the Round of 64 in singles play at the 2012 ITA Atlantic Regionals. Two seniors, Hugo Ramadier and Greg Vladimirsky, also advanced to the same round of the tournament.
This fall, Ramadier compiled a 6-4 record in singles competition and after transferring from Northern Arizona, he is a combined 23-15 as a Duke. Vladimirsky went 4-6 on his own this past fall and, as the lone four-year Duke on the men's tennis roster, is a career 54-34 in singles matches.
Vladimirsky partnered up with senior Bastien Russo this fall for doubles competition, and the duo went 4-2 for JMU. When playing by himself, Russo went 5-5 and is now 11-12 in his career as a Duke over two fall campaigns and one spring season.
Senior Florent Sentenac posted a 3-7 record in tour matches as a singles player this fall and freshman Maxi Branth added a 3-4 record in his first collegiate competitions. Senior Malcolm Peace was unable to compete due to injury.