The ACU men’s and women’s tennis teams are visiting Altamonte Springs, Fla. for the third consecutive year as they both try to bring home their first national championship.
TheÂ Wildcats are entering charted waters, though, as this is the men’s fifth straight trip to nationals, and the women’s 16th successive journey to the national tournament.
Sophomore Alfredo Desiati, who traveled to Florida last spring, said of his return, “It helps that I made it to the national tournament last year. I’ve got a view of the level of the players. I also have a feel for the atmosphere.”
The men’s road to nationals began with the Lone Star Conference Championship tournament where they easily defeated University of the Incarnate Word and Cameron University.
The men lost only one match the whole tournament. These wins advanced them to the South Central Regional tournament where they met Cameron a second time and produced the same result, a 5-2 win. The Wildcats current record is 19-9.
The first opponent for the men’s team is Shaw University. They have a record of 24-1. Their only loss was 5-2 to Longwood University, a school that competes in Division I tennis. Before reaching the national tournament, Shaw beat Saint Augustine’s College, Johnson C. Smith University and Winston-Salem State University in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championships.
Shaw opened at the Atlantic Regional tournament, trouncing Bluefield State College Â 5-3.
Despite the stiff competition the men will be facing, Desiati said he’s not worried about the road ahead.
“We’ve been practicing hard all season long for this,” Desiati said. “I’ll be a little nervous when I get to Florida, but that’s a part of the game of tennis.”
Junior Eldad Campbell said that being in the tournament at all speaks volumes to the team’s talent.
“The fact that we’re there shows we are among the best in the nation,” Campbell said. “I’m pumped and excited; we’ve put in a lot of hours and are ready to reap the benefits of all of our hard work and commitment.”
Desiati said the team won’t be training any differently than they have been throughout the year, as this is what they’ve been preparing for.
“We don’t have to do anything different,” Desiati said. “We’ve been preparing all year long. The main thing is mental preparation. That is the key.”
The ACU women’s team also breezed through the Lone Star Conference tournament, defeating Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Cameron and Midwestern State University. Like the men, the women lost just one match. In the South Central Regional tournament, a 5-1 win againstÂ conference foe Tarleton State at the Teague Special Events Center propelled the Wildcats intoÂ the national tournament. The women boast an overall record of 22-7.
The women’s tennis team will face off against Mesa State College, who come into the matchup with a record of 23-9.
Mesa State is a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
They too lost one match in their conference tournament. Mesa State played against the likes of Colorado State University-Pueblo, Metro State College and University of Nebraska at Kearney.
In their regional match Mesa State thumped Winona State University 5-0.
That win gives MSU momentum going into their match against Abilene Christian.
The Wildcats have not played Mesa State in the past five years, so familiarity will be lacking.
The women’s team lost to Lynn College in their opening match last year at the national tournament.
“Tennis is uncertain; you never know what is going to happen,” Campbell said. “You have to take it one step at a time. We are going to be competing against the top in the nation day in, day out. I’m looking forward toÂ playing the first match.”