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By Angela Moryan, Sports Information Assistant
TEMPE, Ariz. – Previously unranked Christian Graff (Lohmar, Germany) brought in the most honors for the No. 11 Georgia College Men's Tennis team Wednesday when the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Rankings were released. The Bobcats' Pedro Ecenarro (Santiago de Compostela, Spain) and Kyle Kinsler (Suwanee, Georgia) also snagged solid spots among the top in the Southeast.
Graff plowed through the top-ranked players in the Southeast to snag the No. 8 spot. His first individual regional ranking of his career came after beating three nationally-ranked opponents in the first half of the season.
His first strike came in the second spot against No. 5 Valdosta State University's Fernando Rivas. Graff topped the No. 20 singles player in two, 6-3, 6-4. Next, the Bobcat moved to the No. 1 singles spot and took down No. 6 Columbus State University's KP Pannu. Graff upset No. 17 in the nation in a lengthy 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 fight. Most recently, Graff used two sets to stop No. 43 James Hardiman from No. 34 University of Southern Indiana, 6-3, 6-4.
The Bobcat has only lost two singles matches of 10 thus far. The two close losses came at the hand of nationally-ranked opponents. Graff pushed No. 7 Niklas Zielen of No. 18 University of North Georgia to a third tiebreaking set. The 6-3, 4-6, 4-6 loss was Graff's closest of the season. He also fell to No. 46 David Korsten from No. 4 Lander University on day three of a three-day marathon, 6-3, 6-4.
Graff also ranks with Kinsler at No. 10 doubles in the Southeast. Kinsler has shined in the No. 1 doubles spot with Graff in recent matches and earned his first regional ranking of his career, as well. The Bobcat pair has won 3-of-5, most notably upsetting the No. 16 doubles team in the nation, Pannu and Zach Whaagna from No. 6 Columbus State.
Ecenarro has used his eight singles wins to move up two spots to 17th in the Southeast individual rankings. The Bobcat has dominated in the No. 2 spot for Georgia College, even shutting down No. 47 in the nation, Whaagna, from No. 6 Columbus State with a pair of 6-2 set wins.
As a whole, the Bobcat men dropped down a spot in the region. The Bobcats have only three losses, but all come at the hand of the top teams in the Southeast. Previously ranked at No. 4, Georgia College struggled to top No. 5 Valdosta State, No. 18 North Georgia and No. 4 Lander. Now, the Bobcats are ranked fifth in the Southeast, hoping to climb back up with some wins against nationally-ranked opponents in Pensacola next week.
The Bobcats head to Florida for their three-match spring break. First up, Georgia College plays No. 15 Midwestern State University Saturday, March 18 at 11 a.m.
The Georgia College Department of Athletics, two-time winners of the PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 11 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Bobcat Athletics prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the teams' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at @GCBobcats on social media for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit GCBobcats.PhotoReflect.com to purchase photo prints from home athletic contests.