Pirates Earn Highest C-USA Tourney Seed Ever
April 14, 2009
GREENVILLE, N.C. - When No. 4 East Carolina plays No. 5 Southern Miss in the opening round of the 2009 Conference USA Men's Tennis Championship Tournament Friday in Orlando, it will do so with the program's highest seeding assignment since participation in the league's post-season event began in 2002.
The tourney, which gets underway at 8 a.m. with the Pirates and Golden Eagles, will be played at the UCF Tennis Complex. Other first-round matchups include No. 1 Tulsa vs. No. 8 Memphis (11 a.m.), No. 3 SMU vs. No. 6 UCF (2 p.m.) and No. 2 Rice vs. No. 7 UAB (5 p.m.).
East Carolina has enjoyed one of its top seasons in history this spring, compiling a 19-4 regular season record. The Pirates ran off a 12-match win streak from Feb. 20 to April 3 that vaulted them into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division I Poll on two separate occasions. Most recently, ECU has split its last six matches, one of those resulting in a 5-2 setback to Southern Miss on April 4.
Shawn Heinchon, who is in his fifth year heading the ECU men's team, led the Pirates to their first winning campaign since 2004 last spring with a 13-12 mark before establishing a new program single-season standard in 2009 with the 19 victories.
Doubles play has been one of the keys to East Carolina's success this year with a combined 45-15 record. Senior Aleksey Kochetov and sophomore Henrik Skalmerud have won 16 of 20 matches, while juniors Bryan Oakley and Stephen Whitwell have posted a 15-3 mark while playing primarily the No. 3 position.
Kochetov (17-3) and Oakley (15-2) have also provided the bottom of the Pirates' singles lineup a spark with a combined 32-5 record.
East Carolina, which has produced a 3-9 ledger in seven previous C-USA Tournament appearances, will try to capture its first opening-round victory since 2004 and snap a four-match post-season skid when it meets the Golden Eagles Friday.