Tennis team set for the Thomasville invitational

The Florida A&M men’s tennis schedule begins today with the Thomasville Collegiate Invitational at the Glen Arven Country Club in Thomasville, Ga.

The Rattlers will enter the six-team clay-court tournament with two of their youngest players, freshman Chidi Gabriel and sophomore Takura Happy.

Head coach Carl Goodman said that this duo – which will play singles and doubles matches against the likes of Florida State University, Georgia State Univeristy, University of South Alabama, University of West Florida, and Valdosta State University – are two players on his roster most comfortable competing on clay.

“Takura has a lot of experience playing on clay courts and Chidi Gabriel has a lot of experience so hopefully they’ll do pretty well,” Goodman said.

Happy, the younger brother of former Rattler tennis player, Simbarashe Happy, was last season’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and a 2010 All-MEAC First-Team selection.

Gabriel, a transfer from the University of Louisville, said he is excited about beginning the season in a new program, especially on a surface he is quite fond of.

“I love clay courts, like that’s my favorite surface to play on,” Gabriel said. “It’s different. It’s not just going out there and trying to hit the ball as hard as you can; you gotta play tactical and put your mind to it.”

Tournament referee and Glen Arven Country Club Tennis pro Rob Castorri issued this statement Thursday via press release: “This is the first time ever Thomasville has hosted a NCAA Division 1/Division 2 tournaments in any sport and we are fortunate to get this caliber of field. Our goal was to make this an annual event.”

The three-day invite ends on Sunday with the finals matches set to begin at noon.

The tournament is open to the public free of charge and offers shaded seating.

Following the TCI, the Rattlers will be back in action at the end of this month at the 10th Annual HBCU National Tennis Championships.