By Brian Roe, Sports Writer
The men’s tennis team spent last weekend in Las Cruces, N.M., playing a series of four matches in four days. But the weekend also was filled with activities other than tennis competition.
“Las Cruces is actually a cool place,” said Sal Taweel, senior men’s player. “We ended up having a day off so we were able have some fun and go to the mountains in New Mexico.”
ACU finished the road trip with one win and three losses; however, all three losses were to Division I schools considered the favorite in every match.
The men began their road trip by playing Division I team Pan American on Friday. Pan American won two of three doubles matches and received one point for winning the doubles bracket. Pan American then went on to win six consecutive singles matches en route to a 7-0 victory over ACU.
Later that day, the ACU men faced off against Division II opponent, West New Mexico. The Wildcats won every match and defeated West New Mexico, 9-0. ACU was then scheduled to face Tennessee Tech Saturday morning, but rainy weather led to a cancellation.
On Sunday, ACU played New Mexico St., yet another Division I school.
Though many of the matches were close, the ACU men won only one singles match and lost 6-1.
“It’s hard when you play against Division I teams, but it’s good for us,” senior Clayton Morgan said. “When you play against better Division I teams, you can’t help but get better and more prepared for when we play other Division II teams.”
The Wildcats again faced a tough opponent, traveling to Lubbock on Monday to play Texas Tech. The heavily favored Red Raiders took care of business against ACU in a 7-0 victory. ACU’s top doubles team, Julien Curatella and Kirk O’Connor, lost by a score of 9-7, almost pulling off an extraordinary upset against one of the top doubles teams in the nation. The team of sophomore Jason Ray and freshman Evan Puglia also nearly tasted victory before losing 9-8.
Taweel said the team played better than the stat sheet shows.
“We tried to go into every match with positive attitude thinking we are going win the match,” Taweel said. “We try not to think of them as superior opponents because anything could happen. There were a lot of close matches; the thing is, these guys are more exposed to this kind of tennis. We lack the experience of playing this level; skills-wise, the competition was pretty even, but mentally and experience-wise, they were superior.”
The men’s team now has an overall record of three wins and five losses. The Wildcats will play again March 1 against an unannounced Division II opponent.