WILMINGTON, North Carolina – UNCW’s emerging doubles tandem of Rafael Aita and Sam Williams head to the mecca of U.S. tennis this week to compete in the 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships at the USTA Billie Jean National King Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

The USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, slated for Thursday through Sunday (Nov. 7-10), serve as the culmination of the fall college tennis season. Hosted by Columbia, the prestigious event features a 32-player singles draw and a 20-team doubles draw for men and women.

Aita (Lima, Peru) and Williams (Bristol, England) punched their ticket to the ITA Nationals by completing an impressive unbeaten run in the ITA Carolina Regional at Cary Tennis Park last month. The pair received a first-round bye and will face the winner of an opening-round match between Columbia’s Ashok Narayana-Max Schnur and Texas A&M’s Junior Ore-Jackson Withrow. Aita and Williams are guaranteed to play at least four matches in the national event.

"Anytime you have a chance to win a national championship it’s a special opportunity and a big step for Rafael, Sam and our tennis program,” said Mait DuBois, UNCW’s successful seventh-year head coach. “They’ve earned this opportunity with exceptional consistency in only losing one match together the last two semesters and advancing through one of the toughest regions in the country.

“They both really enjoy playing the best players and I know they’re looking forward to the opportunity. We will prepare as we always do and just stay focused on ourselves and what we can do to get better."

Aita and Williams, the No. 2 seeds, defeated N.C. State’s Robbie Mudge and Sean Weber, 8-4, for the right to travel to New York. Aita and Williams knocked off opponents form Elon, Duke, North Carolina, South Carolina and N.C. State en route to the regional championship.

According to DuBois, "Advancing to this level is a real testament to how much Rafa has developed his doubles game during his college career. He did not make our doubles lineup in his first year with us and found that his game did not translate well to college doubles. In his second year, he saw limited playing time at the No. 3 position. Now he’s among the nation’s best doubles players and that represents a lot of hard work, and I’m very proud of him for the progress that he’s made.

"Sam has stepped up and really been the vocal leader of the doubles team. Their communication has been a huge part of their success and I give Sam credit for taking that responsibility on himself."
 
The field includes the men’s and women’s champions from each of the 12 Division I USTA/ITA Regional Championships held across the country in October, winners of the USTA/ITA National Small College Super Bowl, singles quarterfinalists from the Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Championships, singles semifinalists from the Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships along with consolation champions and doubles finalists from both All-American events.

DuBois said: "I am very pleased that as a program, we have continued to take steps forward. Last year was the first time we had ever qualified anyone for the outdoor NCAA individual tournament with Chris (Cooprider), Kosta (Blank) and Rafael qualifying. Now, having the first team to win a regional and qualify for the NCAA indoor individual event is another benchmark we have set for ourselves to be among the nation’s top programs.” 

The 16-team doubles field is highlighted by top-seeded Libietis and Hunter Reese of Tennessee, the 2013 ITA All-American champions. The duo was ranked at the top of the ITA Division I Preseason Rankings, and defended the label with eight straight wins to start the fall before falling in the semifinals of the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regionals to David O’Hare and Joe Salisbury of Memphis. The Tiger pair earned an automatic bid to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships by winning the regional tournament.

The 2013 USTA/ITA Texas Regional Champions, Soren Hess-Olesen and Lloyd Glasspool of Texas, turned in three top 10 wins and a 12-2 record this fall to garner the No. 2 seed. ITA All-American runner-up Marcos Giron and Mackenzie McDonald of UCLA earned the No. 3 seed with a 7-1 record during the fall and the Illinois pair of Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski, consolation winners at the ITA All-Americans, round out the top four seeds.

This year marks the fourth consecutive year the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships will be held at the home of the US Open.

For complete coverage of the 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, including access to draws, live scores and more, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, or like the ITA Facebook page for updates and news from Flushing. Use the hashtag #NationalIndoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "NationalIndoors" to find others who are tweeting about the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, Nov. 7-10.

 

MEN’S DOUBLES PARTICIPANTS

Rafael Aita/Sam Williams

  University of North Carolina, Wilmington

  USTA/ITA Carolina Regional Champion

 

Jorge Azuero/Shea Thomas

  Liberty University

  USTA/ITA Atlantic Regional Champion

 

Gregory Bayane/Chase Melton

  University of California, Berkeley

  USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Champion

 

Jose Bendeck/Cristobal Ramos

  University of Idaho

  USTA/ITA Mountain Regional Champion

 

Andreas Bjerrehus/Amerigo Contini

  Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  At-Large Selection

 

Max de Vroome/Eric Johnson

  University of Southern California

  USTA/ITA Southwest Regional Champion

 

Simon Felix/Deni Zmak

  Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

  USTA/ITA Super Bowl Champion

 

Sam Fleck/Chris Vrabel

  Cornell University

  USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Champion

 

Marcos Giron/Mackenzie McDonald

  University of California, Los Angeles

  Saint Francis ITA All-American Runner-up

 

Lloyd Glasspool/Soren Hess-Olesen

  University of Texas, Austin

  USTA/ITA Texas Regional Champion

 

Robin Goodman/Ravi Patel

  Drake University

  USTA/ITA Central Regional Champion

 

Ross Guignon/Tim Kopinski

  University of Illinois

  Saint Francis ITA All-American Consolation Champion

 

William Kallberg/Stefan Lindmark

  University of Mississippi

  USTA/ITA Southern Regional Champion

 

Peter Kobelt/Kevin Metka

  Ohio State University

  USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Champion

 

Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese

  University of Tennessee

  Saint Francis ITA All-American Champion

 

Benjamin Lock/Marco Nunez

  Florida State University

  USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Champion

 

Ashok Narayana/Max Schnur

  Columbia University

  Host Wild Card

 

David O'Hare/Joe Salisbury

  University of Memphis

  USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Champion

 

Junior Ore/Jackson Withrow

  Texas A&M University

  At-Large Selection

 

Elliott Orkin/Gordon Watson

  University of Florida

  USTA Wild Card