March 11, 2008
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - With both USC Upstate tennis teams riding perfect records in conference play, they will both face matches this week that will present some of the biggest challenges of the young season.
The women's team will kick off the week by looking to hand their coach, Alessandro DeMarzo, a school record for wins, when Stetson visits the USC Upstate Tennis Complex on Friday. The women, who at 10-2 overall and 4-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference, are facing a Stetson team that is 6-6 overall and 4-1 in the A-Sun, which is good for fourth place.
The men's team travels to Johnson City, Tenn., for a dual with the Big 12's Nebraska. The Spartans, who are 10-3 overall and 3-0 in the A-Sun, are looking to down the first BCS-conference tennis program in school history when they face the 5-8 Cornhuskers.
Eyeing His Assistant's Spot?
Head coach Alessandro De Marzo, who earlier this season became the third coach in program history to reach 100 career wins, is now quickly looking to assume the women's program's all-time leader in wins. With 56 wins entering the week, the fourth-year head coach is just one win away from tying his current assistant and former head coach Tami Matheny, who posted 57 wins with the women's program from 1998-2004. Matheny, who led the Spartans to a NCAA Division II Regional berth in 2003, handed the reins of the tennis program over to De Marzo in 2004. In the last three years, De Marzo led the Spartans to three appearances in the NCAA Tournament and took the 2007 team to the NCAA National Tournament for the first time in school history.
Junior Anna Novo has recorded 22 singles wins on the season thanks to a perfect 3-0 record in play last week, which is already tied for the most in a season in school history. The Venezuelan junior has tallied an impressive 22-4 overall record thanks to a 12-2 fall and a 10-2 start in dual meets. A two-time Division II All-American, Novo has a chance at breaking her own school record of 22, set by herself during the 2006-07 season. Senior Diana Martinez also won 22 matches during the season. She also has 41 combined wins thanks to a 19-4 doubles record with partner Emilia Milovanovic, which is currently tied for second in school history and just three wins shy of senior Susana Hernandez's record of 44 combined wins set in 2006-07.
Sophomore Renzo Airaldi is quickly nearing the school record of 27 singles wins set by James Homan during the 1991-92 season. Airaldi, who plays No. 2 singles for the Spartans, currently has an overall record of 23-4 just four wins away from the record. A 2007 Division II All-American as a doubles player, Airaldi saw action in just seven singles matches as a freshman, winning six, making his rise to the top of the Spartan lineup this season one of the most pleasant surprises on the team.
Both the USC Upstate tennis teams reached their 10th dual match wins on Saturday at Belmont, marking a near-annual achievement for both squads. The USC Upstate men's tennis team won its 10th match for the eighth consecutive year, one short of the school record, with its 4-0 sweep of Belmont late Saturday night. The Spartans, now 10-3 overall, have won at least 10 matches in every season since the third year of Tami Matheny's reign as head coach in 2001 and including all four years of head coach Alessandro De Marzo's reign, amassing 126 wins in the last eight seasons. The school record for consecutive 10-wins seasons is nine, set from 1988 to 1996, with Alan Ferguson piloting the team for eight years.
The USC Upstate women's tennis team reached 10 wins for the fourth consecutive season, the longest stretch in school history, with a 5-1 win over Belmont late Saturday night. The Spartans, now 10-2, have posted a combined 56-23 (.709) record en route to their four straight 10-win campaigns, all under De Marzo, breaking the mark by Matheny's teams which compiled three straight 10-win seasons from 2001-03.
It's Always Better To Share
Junior Leandro Osorio is just two doubles wins away from becoming the fifth men's player in school history to reach 50 in a career. Osorio, who with senior partner Sebastian Gonzales-Orbegoso, have moved into the No. 1 doubles slot, has posted an impressive 48-18 career doubles record. He could join Gonzales-Orbegoso (52), Diego Sist (50), Jose Luis Reyes (63) and Stefan Dumitrescu (72) in the club.