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The UTEP tennis team will square off against Memphis in the first round of the 2011 Conference USA Championships at the Lake Cane Tennis Center in Orlando, Fla. at 8 a.m., MDT on Thursday.
The Miners (6-13, 1-3 C-USA) will be the No. 11 seed while the Tigers (15-9, 3-3 C-USA) earned the sixth seed. The victor will advance to take on third-seeded and No. 52 Marshall, which was one of four squads to earn a bye at the league’s pinnacle event.
“I feel good about the seeding and the match-up,” UTEP head coach Victor Aguilar said. “We are excited to start play at the C-USA Championships because this is what we have been working toward all year.”
While UTEP did fall at Memphis, 5-2, in the only meeting between the schools this year on April 8, it enters the championship on a high note. It bounced Southern University, 6-0, in the final match of the regular season on April 9.
History is also on the side of the Orange and Blue, with the Miners sporting a mark of 2-0 all time against the Tigers at the C-USA Championships. UTEP notched first-round victories against Memphis in both 2007 and 2009.
Aguilar will be looking to become the initial first-year head coach in program history to start the conference tournament with a triumph. Former Miner coaches Kelly Fisher and York Strother each secured a win at their first league championship, but it came after UTEP fell in the first round and was relegated to the consolation side of the bracket. C-USA’s Championship is single-elimination, though, unlike the WAC format for the respective wins of Fisher and Strother.
Senior Ximena Fuentes will set the tone for the Miners. She has piled up a team-high 12 wins in dual-match play, and enters the event on a four-match victory streak. Additionally, she boasts a record of 8-2 over her past 10 matches.
Freshman Rebeca Calvillo has also been a key for the Orange and Blue during the 2010-11 season. She has registered a team-best overall mark of 19-7, which includes a readout of 10-4 during dual-match play. Calvillo is also peaking at the right time, evidenced by her standing at 8-2 over the past 10 matches.
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