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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Regional championships encourage tennis teams

Monday, October 1, 2007  
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By Tracy Washam

If the fall season stands as an indicator of how the spring season will go for Oklahoma Christian University’s tennis teams, they have reason to be excited about what lies in the future.

With multiple championships in their two tournaments so far this season and a mix of veterans and newcomers, both teams think they have a chance to have more successful teams than in years past.

“The guy’s team looks great this year,” senior Ryan Stephenson said. “We have multiple people competing for our number one position which means that our lineup should be pretty impressive come springtime.”

Esteban Flores won last week’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles bracket and then paired with Juraj Surovy to win the men’s doubles title. Regional winners move on to ITA Nationals on Oct. 11.

“A lot of our guys have returned with stronger games, and some new faces are really making an impact,” Stephenson said. “It’s going to be really exciting watching us all compete.”

The men are working hard in practices right now. They run their own practices so they really have to make sure they stay focused. They are also working hard on their conditioning.

“Areas of improvement for us right now would consist mainly of getting us into peak physical shape,” Stephenson said. “We are working hard during the mornings and afternoon practices to shape up for the upcoming season.”

The men’s team has their share of obstacles before spring time, but they are confident it will turn out to be one of the best seasons they have had in a while.

“We have had an injury to one of our players, but we are hoping to see him in peak condition come January,” Stephenson said. “Overall, this is shaping up to be the best team that we have been able to put together over the past four years, and I am pretty excited about it.”

The Lady Eagles are excited about their upcoming season and they believe they are going to have a successful year as well.

“The team this year looks pretty solid,” senior All-American Jennifer Le said. “We have three returning starters on our varsity line up, an incoming girl from France who is very talented that should play in the top four for us, and we have a few junior varsity girls that might step up to varsity in the spring.”

The women have also had a good start to their fall season. Le and Gabriela Nastasa advanced to ITA Nationals with a victory in women’s doubles at the regional tournament.

Le and Nastasa were both All-Americans last year and appear to be back in sync for another season. Also Sophomore Leila Keihani returned with an improved game which bodes well for the Lady Eagles.

Practices are going well for the women. They are trying to develop a new routine for this year to improve from years past. It has been difficult the past few years only having two tennis courts to practice on, so the girls usually have to go off campus for practices.

The Lady Eagles have also been doing conditioning work with trainer Jack Pugh and believe that has been helping their on-court endurance. They have goals they want to accomplish this season and believe they have what it takes to accomplish these goals.

“One of our team goals is obviously to beat Southern Nazarene University this year,” Le said. “We split with them last year, and hopefully, we can come back and beat them for the Sooner Athletic Conference title. We also want to go to nationals for the third year in a row.”

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