Tennis is a back and forth game; hit after hit, serve after serve, no one knows who will win the point. The Crusader team, despite the nature of the game, has remained solid this fall season. Both the men and the women have had success, and it has started at the top—with the seniors.
Biblical studies major Will Summers and sociology major Haley Loftus are two of the senior leaders.
Summers said “All of the guys are maturing and improving each year. We are finally seeing the fruit of those labors.”
At the Regional Champioinship of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the men brought their A-game before being outmatched by heavy thundershowers. The championships were cancelled as the east Texas weather served up a nasty volley of storms.
However, the men were able to make some noise.
Sophomore economics major John Martin made it into the round of 16 in “B” singles by defeating U.T.-Tyler’s Matthew Vechione 6-3, 6-1 in the second round. In “B” doubles junior mass communication /journalism major Jake Stamps and sophomore marketing major T.J. Kittrell carved themselves into the quarter finals.
“Doubles has always been a big priority for us” Assistant Coach Casey Wharton said.
“We want to get ahead in a match, and we want to go out with confi dence. If you win the doubles more often than not, you’ll have the momentum to go win the singles.”
Everything must connect for the teams to win; this year they’ve won a lot. One player has gone further than any other individual player has before.
Brittni Fausett became the first UMHB female tennis player and the fi rst singles player to qualify for the ITA National Championship.
Fausett won third place at the ITA Small College National Championships last Saturday, and in the process earned the second-best UMHB finish in ITA history.
Her accomplishments highlight the success of the tennis program as a whole, but the winning mentality of the team didn’t appear out of thin air.
The focus has been centered on the usual recipe for success; they’ve just changed the wording.
“We don’t call it practice. We call it training each day,” Summers said. “Training has a little more of a work ethic undertone.”
That ethic has paid off for the Cru teams; they have increased their conditioning and it shows in their play as matches drag on.
Summers said, “We’ve been pushing a lot more on off-court conditioning, going on runs and going to the gym, stuff like that.”
Loftus believes there is one reason for their high level of play. “We all get along, and we hang out outside of tennis,” she said. “It’s not just a come-to-training-and-that’s-it kind of thing.”