|Aita Has Georgia On His Mind At NCAA's|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Senior men’s tennis star Rafael Aita of UNCW returns to a familiar setting this week when he concludes his collegiate career at the NCAA Men’s Singles Championships in Athens, Ga.
The most decorated player in UNCW tennis history makes his second journey to the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex after competing with the UNCW team in 2011 against Auburn.
Aita, No. 50 in the last ITA poll, will face Georgia’s Nathan Pasha, ranked 30th, on Wednesday, May 21, at 3 p.m. in a first-round match, with the winner taking on either Greg Andrews (Notre Dame) or Patrick Pradella (Baylor). Live video of the match may be found on NCAA.com.
“It’s more about being fresh this time of year and Rafa’s had a nice break,” said UNCW Head Coach Mait DuBois. Aita has not competed since the Seahawks lost to Penn State in the NCAA Regionals 11 days ago in Charlottesville, Va.
“He had a break and then he’s been training the last few days going into the tournament. It will be a very aggressive, big hitting match. Nathan Pasha is a very good player with a similar style to Rafa’s.
“Last year’s experience will help Rafa a lot. Being an All-American is one of the goals that he’s had and I think this is an excellent way for Rafa to finish his college playing career.”
Aita became the first UNCW player to earn an invitation to the NCAA’s elite event when he participated last spring in Urbana, Ill. The Lima, Peru, native fell to UCLA’s Dennis Novikov, 7-6 (9), 6-2, in an opening round match at the University of Illinois.
“Rafa likes playing here and he likes the big stage,” added DuBois. “He plays well in big matches, so it should be pretty exciting.”
Aita, who traveled with Peru’s Davis Cup Team in February, was one of 17 automatic qualifiers for the 64-player field.
The two-time CAA Player-of-the-Year owns a 14-5 singles record this spring with 64 career singles victories, one shy of the school record. He was voted Most Outstanding Performer at the 2014 CAA Championships by the league’s coaches and was named recipient of the Thomas V. Mosley Award as UNCW’s outstanding male student-athlete.