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The Cup's All-SEC Team

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As an avid collegiate tennis fan, I ought not really drop any criticisms on the sport, but a legitimate one is how the sport spreads around its All-{Blank} Honors.  For a sport that has consolidated its rankings and awards into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), it awarded 44 players with the title of All-American in 2008.  Furthermore, this is a sport that starts only six players.  Therefore, I decided to give you the true All-SEC team.  These are the six players that, in reality, any SEC head coach would want if they could put together a team.  And, furthermore, they are the ones to watch for if you are in Auburn this weekend.

All of these players, by the way, are ranked in the Top 25 Singles by the ITA.  And, by way of underscoring how the SEC is the best tennis conference in the country, it has eight players ranked in the Top 25, compared to the next closest ACC with six.  It ought to go without saying that compiling this list required me to leave out some fantastic tennis players.  So, since I am putting this out there, I might as well rank them, as well.

#1  Nate Schnugg, University of Georgia

Schnugg is the indisputable leader of the two-time defending national champion.  He has a 5-3 record against players now in the Top 25 and held a 7-4 record in SEC play with wins against Jonas Berg and Bruno Agostinelli.  It is probably fair to say that UGA has not gotten what it wants out of their 2008 NCAA Tournament MVP, but he still ought to be considered the most outstanding player in the SEC.

#2 Jonas Berg, University of Mississippi

Homerism?  Hardly.  While Jonas is the only member of this team who did not begin his season as his team's presumptive top singles player, he found his way to the top of the Rebel Roster and has seven singles wins in the SEC.  Further, he has a 6-3 record against Top 25 players and a 4-1 record against the nice people I have included in this list.  And his wins against LSU and Alabama show how Berg is a clutch player in the SEC.

#3 Michael Venus, Louisiana State University

Venus has made LSU this season.  He has gone 6-1 in his last eight matches in the SEC with an unfinished match against Arkansas' Blake Strode.  His loss to Jonas Berg (1-6, 2-6) probably adversely effected his national ranking, but I think that was a poor performance on his part.  He and Berg will likely meet again this weekend at the SEC Tournament, and it ought to be a classic match.

#4 John-Patrick Smith, University of Tennessee

A sophomore, Smith started all season at #1 singles for Tennessee and has improved consistently as the season passed along.  He has 15 total wins on the season and 7 in the SEC, all at #1 singles.  He closed out the season with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Nate Schnugg.  

#5 Bruno Agostinelli, University of Kentucky

Agostinelli is the highest-ranked player in the SEC, according to the Campbell's/ITA rankings.  The fact that he is the only player on this list I have not seen personally, likely, hurt his ranking.  He has, nevertheless, notched a 15-6 record overall and 5-5 in the SEC.

#6 Syketh Myneni, University of Alabama

Myneni has the toughest serve I have seen all year ... in the first set.  Nobody in all of college tennis would beat him in the first set, and, if he maintains throughout the match, he is tough to beat, at all.  He rebounded in the SEC, somewhat, to post a 7-4 record.  While his record against current Top 25 players (3-5) is just okay, his streakiness does not discount his raw talent and ability to beat, well, anybody.