By David Carter/GCU Staff
Las Cruces, New Mexico. Where the Lopes hope to make program history.
The GCU Club Tennis Team will spend this weekend in the city known as “The City of the Crosses” competing in the 2019 United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tennis on Campus Section Southwest Championship event. Earning a spot in the finals of this tournament, otherwise known as sectionals, earns GCU an automatic bid for nationals, which would be a first for the program.
To accomplish that feat, the GCU “A” team has to finish one spot higher than their 4th-place finish at this same event last year. It would also be the first time they’d accomplish that in 2018-19, since they’ve yet to make it to the tournament finals of an event, finishing 4th at both the Arizona State University-hosted Devil’s Classic last November and the University of Arizona (U of A)-hosted Wildcat Classic in January.
Last year was the first time the Lopes had made it that far into sectionals, and it certainly showed.
“It looked like we had a good chance last year,” said GCU Club Tennis Head Coach Ed Prudhomme. “I do not know if the players were putting too much pressure on themselves because our team had never made it that far before. We had wins against those teams last year that ended up going to nationals (U of A & University of New Mexico).”
In order to continue their success and make it one step further at this year’s sectionals, the message is clear for GCU.
“I just hope everybody plays hard,” said Prudhomme. “If they play hard, we will see what happens.”
GCU must certainly ‘play hard’ if they are going to make a run at sectionals. Judging by their latest matches against University of Arizona (U of A) this past weekend, the Lopes look like a team that can challenge anyone in the field. U of A has qualified for nationals the last five years in a row by either winning sectionals or losing in the sectional finals. The GCU “A” team defeated the Wildcats’ “A” and “B” teams by scores of 26-15 and 27-18, respectively, last weekend, while the GCU “B” team lost to both of the ‘Cats’ “A” and “B” teams.
An extra incentive? If the GCU Club Tennis team does qualifies for nationals, it will become a “local” tournament for GCU. Last year’s national tournament took place in Orlando, Florida. This year, it’s just 17 miles northwest of the GCU campus at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Center April 11 through 13.
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