By Brian Roe, Sports Writer
Following strong performances the last two weeks at the Omni ITA Regional championships, the ACU tennis teams will be back in action this weekend with the men traveling to Arlington and the women going to Kentucky.
The men will be playing in the Texas-Arlington Classic at the University of Texas at Arlington, and the women will play in Lexington, Ky., to compete in the Kentucky Fall Invitational. The Lady Wildcats are the only NCAA Division II school in a field of teams that includes Kentucky, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Auburn
Both teams have gotten a taste of success early in the season, which is what head coach Hutton Jones wanted.
“I wanted our teams to enjoy some success early in the season and for the younger players to get a feel of what it takes to win at this level,” Jones said. “The girls are about to step in a time warp in this tournament facing some of the top schools in Division I.”
Two weeks ago, sophomore Colleen Reynolds won the women’s ITA Regional singles championship and last weekend sophomore Casper Steencamp won the men’s championship. Both received automatic bids to the national tournament on Oct. 16-19 in Corpus Christi. Last year, ACU did not send a representative to nationals.
Jones said both the men and women will have some tough competition this weekend.
“The men will have some good matches, but this is going to be a good learning experience for the women,” Jones said. “I feel we can compete or we wouldn’t be going up there, but it is going to be very tough competition.”
Jones said the Kentucky coach was impressed with the Wildcats last spring when they competed together in a tournament. He added it’s a good compliment that a prestigious tennis program like Kentucky extended the invitation to ACU.
“Their coach likes our program and respects it,” Jones said. “He doesn’t need us to be there, but he knows our team won’t hold anything back and won’t quit. The other teams may be better, but certainly expect to compete with them.”
Tough competition is expected, but Jones said he expects to win a few matches against the Division I teams.
“This tournament will pull our level up because that’s what happens when you play competition that is better than you,” Jones said.
Junior Rachel Taylor said she is ready for this weekend.
“We are looking to get more match experience against bigger schools and we just want to do our best,” Taylor said. “And wouldn’t it be cool if we upset one of the players from Ohio State or Notre Dame.”