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Sept. 13, 2007
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The USC Upstate Tennis Tournament, which begins Friday at 9 a.m., will be the start of a new era for one of the most successful programs in Upstate's NCAA Division II days as it moves up to Division I. After seven appearances in the men's NCAA Division II Tournament and four appearances in the women's tournament, the Spartans will compete at the penultimate level in amateur athletics beginning with a five-tournament fall season.
The tournament, which will be flighted with brackets for three singles draws for men and two for women and two doubles draws for men and one for women, features six men's programs and five women's teams, including three men's teams that finished 2006 ranked among Division II's top 40 (Upstate, USC Aiken and Presbyterian) and two women's programs inside Division II's top 30 (Upstate and Presbyterian).
The first day of the tournament, Friday, will feature the first and second rounds of all singles and doubles matches, with the men's `A' and `B' draw starting at 9 a.m., the `C' draw beginning at 10:30 a.m. The women's `A' and `B' draws will both begin at noon. The semifinals, finals and consolation matches will be held on Saturday, with play beginning at 8 a.m.
The 2007 season, which marked the last in both USC Upstate tennis programs' tenures in Division II, was one of the finest in Upstate's history. The men's program finished with a school-record 23 wins, had two All-Americans, Stefan Dumitrescu and his doubles partner, sophomore Renzo Airaldi (Lima, Peru/Cambridge College), and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The women's program posted a school-record 21 wins, added an All-American in junior Anna Novo (Caracas, Venezuela/El Angel) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Round of 16 for the first time in school history.
The women's team will once again be led by Novo, earned back-to-back Division II All-American honors in her first two years on campus. She finished her sophomore season with a 22-4 singles record playing at the No. 1 position. She was 10-1 in Peach Belt Conference play, losing only to the No. 1-ranked player in the nation and finished the year ranked No. 11 in the country. She earned All-America honors as a freshman after finishing the season with an 11-7 record at No. 1 singles and also earned Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Year honors. Novo is a combined 33-11 in singles play over her two seasons.
On the men's side, senior Sandy Franz (Duesseldorf, Germany/Beruskolleg Hilden) will enter his senior year as the leader of the Spartan men. After three years as the No. 2 singles player, the German moves into the No. 1 slot after the graduation of now-student assistant Stefan Dumitrescu. Franz finished his junior year with a 20-3 singles record playing primarily at the No. 2 position where he was 15-3 on the year. He was a perfect 4-0 playing in the No. 1 spot and 1-0 at No. 4. Franz was also an ESPN The Magazine Second Team Academic All-District team, holding a 3.96 GPA as a business administration major.