By Michael Freeman, Sports Writer
Full of optimism and fervor, the Wildcat tennis teams are looking toward the spring season. The women’s team is ranked ninth and men’s team is ranked 13th in the Division II national polls.
After a landmark 2004-05 year, which included the women tallying a school record 31 victories, and the men reaching the highest final ranking in years, head coach Hutton Jones said he likes what he sees on the court for the upcoming spring season.
“This is no doubt the deepest talent level I’ve had at ACU,” Jones said.
Even though the women’s team is without any senior players, Jones is upbeat about the team’s chances.
“We’re really young this year,” he said. “But we have a very talented group of juniors and sophomores.”
Two of those juniors, Holly Lindloff and Lana Pavlin, teamed together to capture the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Region doubles title last season.
Sophomores Sara Baker, Meagan Brown and junior Allison Tetrick are on the team as well. Also, the team possesses a few skillful freshmen, such as Sarah Drummond, Elizabeth Korinek, Heidi Lindloff, Aleksandra Vucic and Fed Cup-experienced Irene Squillaci, who plan to contribute this season.
Meagan Brown has the same optimism as Jones.
“The new freshmen and transfers that we have are going to provide us with great depth,” she said.
With the addition of several proficient freshmen, the men’s team will also vie for success. Ryan Hudson, Hutton Jones Jr., Juan Nunez, Erik Morin and Brett Proctor round out the list of first-year players.
“We can only play six players in a tournament, but we have eleven very good players,” Jones said. “It’s tough as a coach to name a line-up, but it’s good for ACU tennis because it makes the players more competitive.”
The men’s roster also contains junior Kevin Beedy, junior Bryce Hicks, seniors George Carstens, Evan Puglia, Jason Ray and Casper Steenkamp.
Led by the more experienced players, such as Steenkamp who is ranked thirteenth nationally in the Division II poll, the men are looking for a winning season.
“I think we have a really good team this semester,” Nunez said.
The women begin the spring season Wednesday when the travel to Eastern New Mexico and Texas Tech. The men play Prairie View A&M and Texas Tech in Lubbock on Feb. 4.
Jones said he is confident about playing against Eastern New Mexico and Prairie View A&M. However, the match-ups with the Red Raiders present a challenge. Texas Tech owns the twenty-third spot in the Division I national rankings.
“We have beaten Tech before,” Jones said. “But, we are going to be pushed, and that will make us a better team.”