Utah Men's Tennis Opens 2021 Campaign Sunday Against Grand Canyon
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men's tennis team is set to open the 2021 season this Sunday, Jan. 17 against Grand Canyon at the George S. Eccles Tennis Center. After not having any competition since March 7, 2020, the Utes will make the long-awaited return to the courts at 12 p.m. MT this Sunday.
Per the extended Pac-12 spectator policy, there will be no fans at any home matches until further notice. Fans can watch a free live stream through the Pac-12 here. To receive score updates, follow @UtahTennis on Twitter.
2021 SEASON PREVIEW
Last year's squad had 10 matches left to complete in the regular season, along with the PAC-12 Championships, before the year was abruptly ended. However, Utah finished the short-lived season with a 12-5 record while the season lasted as well as being 9-3 against Mountain Region Opponents.
Roeland Brateanu, heading into his seventh season as head coach for the Utah men's tennis program, led the Utes to a 12-1 record in home dual matches in 2020, which included an upset against No. 23 Iowa. The three-time ITA Mountain Region Coach of the Year also led Franco Capalbo in earning the ITA Mountain Region Freshman of the Year award despite not having seen a full season of action.
For the 2021 season, the Utes will have five returning players. Moscow, Russia native Slava Shainyan enters his fifth season on the squad now as a graduate student this spring. Last year, Shainyan was team captain and finished the shortened season with a team-best 13-2 overall record in singles, including a 9-1 record at No. 3 position and against Mountain Region opponents. He defeated Purdue's Michael Kozniak 6-2, 6-3 and East Tennessee State's Juan Lugo 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 to begin a five-match winning streak, and finished with six consecutive singles wins.
Returning as the top singles player from last season, Capalbo was the ITA Mountain Region Rookie of the Year during the shortened 2020 season. He immediately stepped into the No. 1 position for singles for the majority of the year and No. 2 position for doubles. He recorded an 8-5 overall dual record in singles, which included a 7-3 record at the top singles spot.
Randy Cory, another key returning player, played at No. 1 doubles spot during the 2020 season and finished with a No. 37 ranking in the ITA/Oracle doubles polls prior to the season's cancellation with his partner. He posted a 12-4 overall dual record in doubles, which included winning 11-straight matches from January 21 to February 29 leading him to be nationally-ranked for most of the season. Mathias Gavelin is returning to the team for his (repeat) sophomore season. Last year, Gavelin compiled an 11-4 singles record, playing primarily at No. 4 position, but also seeing action in No. 3 and No. 5 positions, and recorded eight singles wins against Mountain Region opponents.
Rounding out the returners is Rian Ta, a four-star recruit at time of commitment to Utah, who won four singles matches at the Utah Invitational during his freshman year, as well as taking wins over Montana State and Southern Utah in doubles at the invitational.
The Utes welcome four new players for the 2021 season. Francisco Bastias joins the team for his repeat sophomore season after spending his first two college seasons at Miami. Bastias recorded a 10-1 finish in singles play as well as 10-2 in doubles during the 2020 season, finishing with a No. 56 rank in the ITA doubles poll. Geronimo Espin Busleiman spent his freshman season with Oral Roberts, where he played at No. 1 position for both singles with an 8-2 record and doubles with an 11-1 record.
Bruno Krenn, a five-star recruit from Calabasas, California, will begin his freshman season with the Utes in 2021. Krenn was ranked No. 51 in the nation at the time of his commitment, and knocked off the No. 2 ranked recruit in the 2020 class at the Easter Bowl ITA Tennis Championships in March 2019. Chris Heck recently signed with Utah in November and has joined Utah for the start of the spring semester and season. Heck is a two-time Canadian national champion in doubles in U12 and U14 and was a two-time finalist in singles at the national championships. Lastly, Luis Flores has joined the program as a grad transfer from New Mexico State. Flores earned second-team All-Wac honors in 2019 with a 13-6 doubles record. He helped lead NMSU to its third WAC Tournament title in four years and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Grand Canyon went 1-11 in 2020 with the sole win coming over Omaha 6-1. Grand Canyon played a tough out of conference slate last season, including three Pac-12 schools and No. 26 Baylor. GCU will play BYU on Saturday prior to traveling to Salt Lake City on Sunday to face Utah. The Lopes are led by Valentin Lang who played primarily at the No. 2 position in 2020. Lang went 4-4 at the top two positions and was named the WAC Doubles Player of the Week and WAC Doubles Player of the Month last season. Also returning from the No. 3 spot is Freddie Grant.
The Utah men's tennis team will hit the road for a three-match trip in Dallas, Texas. Utah opens the trip against Wichita State on Friday, Jan. 22 at 3 p.m. MT before taking on UT Arlington and SMU the following days. Utah faces UT Arlington on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. MT and SMU on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 9 a.m. MT.