Tuesday, May 25, 2004
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Stephen Mitchell begins the final chapter of his collegiate playing career Wednesday, representing Alabama in the NCAA singles championships in Tulsa, Okla. at 10 a.m.
Ranked 42nd in the nation, Mitchell will face Stanford’s Sam Warburg in the opening round. Warburg, a junior, is 31-7 in 2003-2004, and is ranked 8th in the country. He is the No. 8 seed in the 64-player draw. Warburg has won 13 straight singles matches, with his last loss coming on April 6, 2004. Mitchell is 21-14 for the 2003-2004 season.
“Stephen is in excellent spirits and is really anxious for the tournament to start,” Alabama head coach Billy Pate said. “He has worked exceptionally hard since regionals and he has a positive mindset.”
“This is definitely one of the highlights of my career at Alabama and I’m excited to be here,” Mitchell said. “I have nothing to lose.”
Mitchell has been a four-year mainstay in the top of the Tide’s singles and doubles lineup, playing in the No. 1 position throughout his senior year.
Mitchell arrived at the Capstone from Capetown, South Africa in January of 2001, and is expected to complete his degree requirements in business management in June, just three and a half years after enrolling. He is part of a class that led Alabama to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, including a berth in the “Sweet 16” in 2003.
Although he won’t suit up for Alabama after this week, Mitchell is planning to make tennis a part of his life after graduation. He will pursue a professional playing career upon graduation, playing in professional events throughout the United States.
“I’m going to give playing (professionally) a go and if that doesn’t work out I might look to get into college coaching one day,” Mitchell said. “Since I was 14 I knew I was going to come to college and be involved with tennis throughout my life.
“Seeing what college tennis is like has made me want to stay involved in college tennis. The level of tennis has been a lot higher than I expected and the competitiveness has been something I really enjoyed.”
The winner of the Mitchell/Warburg match on Wednesday will play the winner of the Mark Van Elden (Oklahoma St.) vs. Alex Menichini (TCU) match Thursday.