No. 35 Boise State Men's Tennis to Host 2009 ITA Kick-off Tournament Qualifier

BOISE, Idaho After finishing their season at the NCAA National Individual Championships in late May and ranked No. 35 in the nation, the Boise State men’s tennis team is gearing up for their 2009 spring season. The Broncos were chosen as one of 15 teams to host a qualifying round of the ITA Kick-off Tournament. The tournament will consist of the nation’s top-16 teams, winners from each of the 15 qualifying spots as well as the tournament host.

The Broncos earned the right to host their qualifying round after finishing as the top team in the ITA’s Mountain Region rankings. Each of the eight region’s top teams will serve as a host as well as the next seven highest ranked teams in the nation according to the final ITA National Team Rankings for 2008.

Boise State will host No. 1 seed Stanford, No. 2 seed Vanderbilt, and No. 3 seed Auburn. The Broncos will hold the No. 4 seed in the four-team qualifying round. In the final ITA team rankings, Stanford was ranked No. 21, Vanderbilt at No. 26 and Auburn at No. 31.

“I am really excited about the opportunity brought to us by hosting,” said Boise State head coach Greg Patton. “We will get to play two top-30 teams on our own courts which doesn’t happen very often. Usually we have to go to their home courts to face these tough opponents.”

The tournament will be held at Boise State’s Boas Indoor Tennis Center on Saturday, January 31 and Sunday, February 1. Vanderbilt and Auburn will face off in the semifinal round at 12 noon on Saturday with Boise State facing Stanford at 4 p.m. the same day. On Sunday, the winners of each semifinal match will face off while the losers will do the same. Sunday’s matches are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. with Boise State playing in the 1 p.m. match against either Saturday’s winner or loser.

Selections for the Kick-off Tournament were conducted through a draft on June 5 with the top four teams per region (according the final ITA national team rankings) and the next 28 teams earning invites to the tournament. With the 60 teams selected, each team was drafted out to 15 host sites hosting four teams per site with each of the winners from the sites qualifying for the ITA team championships.

After finishing the season as the top team in their region, Boise State will have to work hard to replace three regionally ranked players who were seniors during the 2008 season. Luke Shields snagged the No. 2 singles ranking in the Mountain Region while Piotr Dilaj and Brent Werbeck finished in a four-way tie for 11th. The Broncos will return No. 5 ranked Clancy Shields who will be a senior in 2009 as well as fellow senior-to-be Steve Robertson who was ranked No. 19 in the region. Two Bronco doubles teams earned regional rankings as well, but will be split up during the 2009 season due to the graduation of athletes. Clancy and Luke Shields were ranked as the No. 2 doubles team in the region during the 2008 season but will split due to Luke’s graduation. Ranked No. 19 in doubles, Paul Koenke will return as a senior, but will lose partner Eric Roberson to graduation for the 2009 season.

Boise State finished the 2008 season as the No. 35-ranked team in the country in the ITA team rankings. Clancy Shields earned a No. 64-rank in singles play while older brother Luke finished his career ranked No. 91 in the nation for singles play. The duo joined as the No. 23-ranked doubles team for 2008.

Boise State will begin competing in the fall with individual tournaments and will likely begin their 2009 spring team season just before the ITA Kick-off Tournament on January 31 and February 1.

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