The Wolfpacker

March 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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the ITA rankings (No. 19 in 2007), and will open its state-of-the-art outdoor ten- nis facility this year. The Pack, which I ■ PREVIEW MEN'S TENNIS returns last year's entire starting singles lineup, is also off to its second-best start under the coach at 10-1, and the roster has more depth than when NC State opened 14-1 and advanced to the NCAA Tourna- ment's Elite Eight in 2007. "That [Elite Eight] team was very, very strong, but we really had six singles play- ers and one or two more guys that played some doubles for us," Choboy said. "This team is definitely the deepest team we've ever had. That should allow us to absorb an injury or two where we maybe couldn't do that in the past — that hurt us last year quite a bit when Jaime Pulgar got hurt. I thought we had a pretty good team last year; we just couldn't absorb that type of injury. "To give an idea of how competitive it is for our starting spots, we have knocked off several ranked teams already this year, and we've done it with different lineups every match. In picking up those ranked wins, we've probably had 10 singles play- ers in the lineup." Despite last season's injury — which forced him to miss a month of the ACC slate — Pulgar earned All-ACC honors for the second time in his career. As soon as school ended last May, the native of Ma- drid, Spain, packed his bags to compete on the ITF Futures Tour, a year-round profes- sional tour for young amateur players with competitions held around the globe. Pul- gar was just eight hours shy of graduation heading into the school year, so he stayed on the tour during the fall semester and claimed four tournament titles in doubles play. By the time he returned to Raleigh BY RYAN TICE t's an exciting time for the men's tennis team at NC State. The pro- gram is in its 10th year under head coach Jon Choboy, who led the Wolfpack to its best-ever finish in for the spring season, Pulgar had moved his doubles ranking into the top 500 in the world. The Spaniard is off to an 8-1 start this spring, and he moved back into the col- lege rankings as soon as he started playing again for NC State. Pulgar currently sits at No. 110 in the singles rankings, with his lone loss coming against a player that was rated No. 5 nationally at the time of the match. True freshman Austin Powell also finds himself listed among the country's top players after a strong fall and a 7-0 start to kick off the spring, checking in at No. 124 for the No. 51 Pack in the Camp- bell's/ITA Division I poll. here, and [junior] Dave Thomson has had a national ranking at least half the time he's been here. Dave is recovering from an injury so he hasn't played yet — but I think he's going to be back at 100 percent real soon, so that's exciting." Although Powell and Mudge have com- STACKED ROSTER Last Year's Starting Singles Lineup And Adds A Top Recruiting Class The Wolfpack Returns "That's very, very hard to do as a true freshman, but he's managed to do it," Choboy said. "Jaime has been in the na- tional rankings several times over his ca- reer, so that's to be expected. He's one of the better players and he's been in the top 45 during his career, so I expect him to continue to move up this year. Austin got off to a really good start in the fall and worked extremely hard. He's very com- petitive and you have to beat ranked play- ers to get into the national rankings, that's what he did. He had a fantastic fall and so did one of our other freshmen, Robbie Mudge, who has gotten off to an extremely strong start in the spring, as well. "Over the last couple of years, [senior] Dominic Hodgson has been nationally ranked most of the time that he's been Three To Watch Senior Jaime Pulgar — The two-time All-ACC honoree spent the summer and fall semester playing on the ITF Futures Tour. He won four doubles titles and tested himself against the world's best young players before returning to Raleigh in January to complete his eligibility. Freshman Robbie Mudge — The two-time prep All-American from Winston-Salem, N.C., was the top-ranked senior in the state last year and has started his college career on a tear, winning his first nine singles matches in the spring without dropping a set. Freshman Austin Powell — Powell upended his classmate Mudge in the semifinals of the Southern Intercol- legiate Championships during the fall and has also started on an impressive streak, winning his first seven singles matches. 80 ■ THE WOLFPACKER "With these freshmen, it didn't happen by accident — these guys work hard. They've worked hard their whole careers, but they got here and jumped in with both feet. They bring a lot of energy to practice, they don't want to lose a single point, and the success that they're having now is really a byproduct of that kind of attitude and work ethic. "We're almost halfway through the sea- son, having played 11 matches. Our ex- pectations are to win every time we step out on the court. I don't care who we play, our team understands that and we talk about it a lot, we train that way. We have expectations to be winning or forcing our opponent to the very last point in every match. "I've coached championship teams, I've coached teams that have been to the NCAA quarterfinals and I've coached na- tional champions, so I know what it takes. I feel like there are pieces in place with this mix of upperclassmen and underclass- men. We really do feel like we can go out and win every match on our schedule — we have those expectations as a team." ■ Senior Jaime Pulgar, who earned All-ACC honors for the second time in his career last season, got off to an 8-1 start this year. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS bined to go 16-0 this spring in singles matches, the first-year reinforcements from a recruiting class that was ranked No. 13 nationally don't stop there — Choboy is also excited about what rookie Beck Bond (5-1 in singles this spring) has shown on campus so far. "Beck Bond is a heck of a player who has done a great job, too," the coach noted.

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