Neal Skupski’s Senior Season

Senior captain Neal Skupski has helped lead the Tigers to the number twenty-one ranking. Head Coach Jeff Brown knew Skupski was a special player from the beginning.

“He’s been able to play at a really high level since the beginning,” Brown said. He was thrown in the singles mix in the beginning and he was also in the top of the doubles right away.

Skupski never fully focused on tennis before coming to Baton Rouge, playing soccer and golf before coming to LSU. Brown had to mold him to become a complete tennis player.

“Coming into college I didn’t really have a tennis brain,” Skupski said. “I didn’t know how to play a match because when I was younger I didn’t really play many tournaments.” Skupski also added that Brown and assistant coach Danny Bryan have taught him how to keep his focus during a match.

Skupski and the team will face Northwestern May 12 in Durham, N.C., for the first round of the NCAA tournament. Skupski plans to turn pro in January.


Chris Simpson Having Standout Freshman Year

Freshman Chris Simpson is making his mark for the LSU Tennis team this season. Simpson has been a mainstay on court three for the Tigers, a spot usually reserved for upperclassmen. Head coach Jeff Brown thinks this is only a sign of things to come.

“There’s no reason to think that eventually he won’t be on the top court,” Brown said. “With him being a freshman and continuing to get better as the season’s gone along, I’d imagine he’d get better next year.”

When Simpson arrived on campus in January 2011, he was redshirted by Brown to give him more of a chance to develop. Simpson says it has payed off. “The development since I’ve been here has been very good,” Simpson said. “(Assistant coach) Danny (Bryan) and Jeff have put a lot of effort into me and it shows, I’m playing very well at the moment.”

Brown has a 9-4 record on the season, including a 6-4 record on court three. Brown isn’t surprised by Simpson’s strong play. “We thought his game style was really well suited for the college style in the sense that it seemed to be one that when he played his matches he seemed to figure things out as he went,” Brown said.

Simpson’s strong play this season has helped him rise to ninety-eighth in the nation in men’s singles.

Here is a point for Simpson in his victory against UGA’s Sadio Doumbia, who was ranked twentieth at the time.

LSU Hopes New Tennis Facility Will Help Recruiting

LSU is the only school in the SEC without an indoor tennis facility, but that will soon change. Men’s coach Jeff Brown believes it will help out with recruiting.

The facility would help the team grow in-state talent because it would allow LSU to host junior tournaments, Brown said. Brown believes that, “would lend us to recruits that are like some of the other sports have where they have a passion for LSU from the time they grow up.”

The facility will also give the team a place to play when it rains. The team frequently plays in the afternoon to try and avoid rain cancellations. “If I schedule a match at 6 and it rains once, we may be done for the match,” Brown said. “Where as we schedule it at 2 or 3, it gives us a chance to play a little later if it does rain, that’s why we play when we do. It’s not ideal for the working fan.”

Assistant Danny Bryan thinks the new facility will add to the heavy push the team is already making to fans. “We’re making a really big push to get better attendance at the matches, which we have been doing this year,” Bryan said.

LSU has not finalized a location for the facility, but assistant athletic director Herb Vincent said the facility will likely be south of campus down Nicholson Drive.

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LSU Defeats Vanderbilt 6-1

The LSU men’s tennis team got back on the winning track Sunday afternoon, defeating Vanderbilt 6-1. The Tigers clinched the victory with Stefan Szacinski’s straight set win over Anton Kovrigin. Szacinski said it was the first time he had ever clinched a match. “It was a great feeling,” Szacinski said. “The guy I played, played really well, but I just managed to scrape that one out.”

Coach Jeff Brown finds it hard to believe that that was Szacinski’s first clinch, but said he did play well in the victory. “He needed that, and he just kind of hung around,” Brown said. “In the first set he did a good job of breaking back when he needed to, and same thing in the second.”

The victory gave LSU a 4-1 record during their five match home stand. LSU now heads on the road to face Alabama on Friday; and Auburn Sunday.

“Any SEC win is a good win,” Brown said. “The confidence from that coupled with several of the other wins I think that are becoming more distant memories… I think that’s something we can build on.”

“It’s always tough playing away,” Szacinski said. “We’ll definitely use this as a stepping stone for those matches.”

LSU Men’s Tennis Team’s International Flavor

There are 14 members of the LSU Men’s Tennis team, seven of whom are from outside the United States.

While Les Miles and Trent Johnson travel the country to scout recruits, head coach Jeff Brown has to rely on tournaments and information from his players to find players overseas.

“Someone that knows the most about somebody is somebody you can talk to that’s currently on your team,” Brown said.

Knowing people is how Brown got English born senior Neal Skupski to Baton Rouge.  His brother Ken played for Brown from 2003 until 2007.  When Neal realized he wasn’t ready to go pro, Ken convinced him to come to LSU to develop for four years.

“He told me about the facilities here those are very good,” Neal said.  “The coaches here, Jeff and Danny, they would work with me for four years and improve my game.”

For some members, the ability to prepare for a life after tennis attracts them to the purple and gold.

“After you finish high school pretty much it’s either you go professional or you just study for university,” Australian born junior Stefan Szacinski said. “(LSU) gives you the option of playing competitive tennis at a high level, whilst also pursuing your degree which is a great option for me.”

For more on Neal Skupski’s decision to come to LSU, check out this extended interview clip.

Check this map out for a visual representation of the seven players’ hometowns and just how far away they are from LSU

LSU defeats UNO, 6-1

The temperature at Dub Robinson Stadium may have been cold Sunday night, but the LSU men’s tennis team’s rackets remained red hot.

LSU defeated UNO 6-1, to cap off a 3-0 weekend, including an upset of twelfth ranked Texas A&M earlier Sunday afternoon.

“We really took care of business against a team… that’s not quite our level,” head coach Jeff Brown said.

Against UNO, the Tigers rested some of their players, but kept senior Neal Skupski in after he won both his doubles and singles matches against Texas A&M. Skupski did the same against UNO.

“We need somebody to hold down the top spot against a pretty good player,” Brown said. Skupski answered the call, winning his singles match in straight sets.

“Nearly everyone got to play today, it was just a great, great team effort, all around,” Skupski said.

The Tigers open up SEC play Friday against Kentucky at 3:00.