Eagles tennis has small core, large potential
Photo by: Nick Conley
The men’s tennis team is set to enter their season today in Abilene, Texas, and the women will follow up in the same area on Feb. 8.
In last year’s NAIA National Tournament, the Eagles were able to take home the championship title by persevering through several matches with close final scores during the closing stage of the event.
Senior Renardy Guelfi said it was a tough tournament.
“We were down 3-0 in the semifinals in doubles matches,” Guelfi said. “After that we had to come back and win five singles [matches] out of six.”
Aside from the close victory, some of the Eagles found different aspects of the tournament to be beneficial going into the 2013 season.
“I like high competition, because the sport is not always about winning,” senior Martin Poboril said. “It is also about getting experiences for greater things.”
Five athletes with starting experience from last year’s championship winning lineup will be coming back for the 2013 season.
The roster includes junior Bruno Tiberti, sophomores Nicholas Auruccio and Julio Pulido, senior Paulo Roessle and Poboril.
The Eagles will be facing off against three different schools during the matches this weekend.
Today they will take on Trinity University, a Division III school out of Texas. Tomorrow they will play back-to-back, beginning with Tyler Junior College, followed up by Abilene Christian University.
Looking further down the incredibly packed schedule, the Eagles have some challenges that come with the process of entering NCAA Division II.
Part of their first season in the transfer process will include dealing with the majority of matches on the road, having only three scheduled to play at home.
The Eagles will also be unable to defend their NAIA division title, but will have the opportunity to qualify for the NCCAA championship that takes place in early May.
Returning starter Tiberti commented on the team’s goals for their first season in the NCCAA.
“Our goal for this season is to end up with no losses,” Tiberti said. “We have tough matches, but we’re getting ready for that.”
Fresno Pacific University’s team, who were defeated by the Eagles 5-4 for the NAIA title, will also be starting the transfer process to Division II. During the changeover, Fresno Pacific will be participating in the NCCAA division as well.
The Lady Eagles tennis team will be kicking off their regular season next weekend with matches held in Abilene.
The team will be coming off the back of a season that saw their first successful entrance into the NAIA semifinals. Oklahoma Christian’s tennis program has long been a contender, but while they were in the NAIA, they could never break the quarterfinal barrier until last season.
The Lady Eagles made their semifinals debut with a bang, however, surging back from being down 3-1 against California’s Azusa Pacific University.
Oklahoma Christian won the number four, five and six singles matches to seal the 5-3 victory. Auburn University -- Montgomery defeated the Lady Eagles in the semifinals, ending Oklahoma Christian’s match winning streak, but the third-place finish marked a turning point for the program’s growth.
Two starters from last year’s team, juniors Maryfer Abreu Roman and Gabriela Carrillo, will be returning for the 2013 season. Following the semifinal finish, Roman and Carrillo earned All-America honors..
A schedule full of away matches will also be a running theme for the Lady Eagles this season. Three matches out of their total lineup will be played at home, starting with a home matchup against Midwestern State University on April 4th.
The Lady Eagles will begin this Friday with matches against Trinity, followed by a set of matches on Sunday against Abilene Christian University.