By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
With their seasons behind them, the men’s and women’s tennis teams will seek out Lone Star Conference titles at the LSC Championships in Oklahoma City this weekend.
The ACU men (22-5) and women (23-5) have enjoyed seasons of success, and each team has gone undefeated against conference opponents: the men were 4-0 and the women 6-0 in the LSC.
For the men, the most challenging opponent should be the LSC North’s Cameron (12-6), which narrowly lost to the Wildcats 5-4 in New Braunfels March 15.
“If we face them again we should beat them more handily,” Wildcat sophomore Evan Puglia said. “But they definitely have the potential to beat us. It came down to the wire last time.”
CU’s No. 1 player, Italian freshman Ivor Hitrec, anchors a strong singles lineup for the Aggies, which won flights 1 through 3 in the earlier loss to ACU. According to Puglia, Hitrec has trained with ATP player Goran Ivanisevic.
“They’re super strong in singles, but they’re not so good when they play together in doubles,” he said.
The men are favored to win the five-team tournament, but have been preparing themselves for pressure situations just in case. In practice matches, Puglia said the Wildcat players will start at 4-4 rather than 0-0, giving them the feel of real-life crunch time.
“It makes it easier to handle the real pressure,” he said. “Everybody can hit the ball the same, but it comes down to who’s more comfortable on the court. I think that’s why we have a good record; we’ve been able to handle the pressure situations.”
The ACU women might be even more heavily favored than the men. The Wildcats have outscored their LSC opponents 48-6 this season, with only Central Oklahoma coming close in a 6-3 loss March 27.
“We’re expected to win,” said senior Ashley Hawk, who usually plays the Cats’ No. 4 singles spot. “We’re pretty deep one through six, and a lot of other teams aren’t as solid down the ladder.”
Hawk said the team has received an added boost from overachieving freshmen Holly Lindloff and Lana Pavlin, who usually rotate between the No. 5 and 6 singles and 2 and 3 doubles slots.
“Our freshmen girls have really stepped up and filled our holes well this year,” she said.
The women’s team is set to play at 9 a.m. Thursday, while the men kick things off at 3 p.m.