The inaugural Div. I Southland Conference regular season may be over for the Wildcats’ tennis teams, but there is still one tournament left to play. The men’s and women’s teams will compete in the 2014 National Invitational Tennis Tournament hosted by the University of Nebraska-Omaha this weekend.
The tournament features other teams from around the nation that, like the Wildcats, are ineligible for post-season play because of NCAA regulations regarding the transition from Div. II to Div. I.
“We’re not through yet. In fact, we’re treating next week’s event like it’s nationals – that’s why we’re calling it the National Invitational Tournament,” head coach Hutton Jones said.
The tournament takes place Saturday and Sunday with the women’s team playing one match each day. The first matchup will be against the host team, UNO, which is a member of The Summit League. The Mavericks hold a 7-11 record on the season, while the Wildcats enter play with an impressive 17-5 record. Sunday’s contest will be against Grand Canyon University, a member of the Western Athletic Conference and owners of an 11-6 record on the year. The Wildcats have not faced either team prior to this weekend.
“We will have the same mindset as if this were any other conference match and take them just as seriously,” junior Brittney Reed said. “We expect to play tough teams and we expect them to fight hard. If we compete physically and mentally, only then will we have the chance to win.”
This will be the final collegiate competition for seniors Micah Hermsdorf and Emily Conrad. The two upperclassmen have led the Wildcats to a successful first season in Div. I athletics.
The Wildcats have proved to everyone that they have always been a Div. I team, said Reed.
“We were right there with every team in the conference and I can’t wait for next year to continually show everyone what ACU is made of,” he said.
Conrad and her doubles partner, sophomore Nada Marjanovic, enter the tournament with a 15-9 record in doubles. Marjanovic led the Wildcats with a 17-4 singles record.
“I am excited and sad at the same time to play my final doubles matches with Emily,” Marjanovic said. “We will be looking to put together everything we’ve learned and done throughout the season to finish well.”