By Brian Roe, Sports Writer
So much for offseason. The ACU men’s and women’s tennis teams didn’t receive much “off” time since completing its fall season in October.
“We have worked on fitness more during the offseason than anything else,” senior women’s player Lacy Johnson said. “We did a lot of running, weight training and worked on getting our fitness level higher than it was in the fall. We just recently started back with tennis.”
In preparation for a tough spring schedule that includes Division I opponents Texas Tech, Kentucky and Tulsa, Coach Hutton Jones made fitness a top priority during the offseason.
The team is expecting its record to suffer some due to arguably the toughest schedule in all of Division II. Team members, however, said they will not let the tough schedule get in the way of preparing for a successful spring season.
“Individually, I worked on improving all of my skills,” freshman Cole Griffith said. ” As a team, we have focused more on unity: being together, relying on each other and working out together. Our goal is to win the conference championship and go to nationals.”
Team unity is important in almost every sport, and tennis is no different. As opposed to individual tennis in the fall, the spring format calls for team tennis. Universities go head-to-head against each other, and every match counts toward the total number of team matches won. The team with the most individual match wins takes all.
“The most important aspect to team tennis is that everyone’s matches count,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter whether you play in the number one spot or one of the lower spots, every match is just as important as the others.”
The men and women will travel separately this weekend as the team kicks off its spring season. The women’s team will be going to Stephenville to play 10 a.m. Saturday against Tarleton State. The men, meanwhile, will play host to the ACU Men’s Indoor tournament, competing against Oral Roberts, Howard Payne and Dallas Baptist. Following Saturday’s tournament, the men’s team will travel to Houston for a Sunday afternoon match against Rice.
The team focus this spring will be on making the most of opportunities and playing together as a team. Last spring the men’s team lost in the regional final against Incarnate Word and the women’s team lost in the regional quarterfinals against BYU-Hawaii.
“The key for us is coming together as a team,” Johnson said. We are a good team but we can get even better. We have to work hard for the next three months and not hold anything back.”