PHOENIX, Ariz. - To the naked eye, the ThunderWolves' men's and
women's tennis team essentially travelled 1000 miles to get pounded
into the pavement, losing most of the matches they had in the
four-day-long tennis free-for-all.
But the Pack tennis teams, taking on foes that were among the tops in the country, held their own all weekend long, tennis coach Tom Durham said.
"Everybody felt good about their play," Durham said about the Pack players' efforts. "The scores don't really reflect how well they played all weekend long."
The men's tennis team got their feet wet on Feb. 14 against the team ranked 15th in the nation, Abilene Christian. Though the team lost all nine matches against Abilene Christian, it helped to raise the level of the team's play.
By the time the Pack took on Midwestern State Feb. 17, the number-32 team in the country, the 6-0 and 6-1 losses were scaled back, as 6-3 and 6-4 losses became the norm. The Pack's top singles player, Ricardo Oaxaca, nearly knocked off Midwestern's top player, Karim Belhadj, losing 7-5 and 6-3.
"We were always able to take them to deuce, and it wasn't as big a runaway as the scores indicated," Durham said.
Against Cal Poly, number-two singles player Beau Fresquez helped the Pack to salvage a win, earning a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win over Salvador Romero. His effort was one that was typical of the Pack's effort, Durham said.
"I had a number of coaches come to me and compliment the effort and heart of our players," Durham said. "I couldn't be more proud of how they performed."
On the women's side, two of their three matches came against teams ranked nationally in the top 40. In one of those matches, against number-30 Midwestern State, number-two singles player Julie Wainwright was able to knock off Collean Kinser rather handily, 6-3, 7-2, to record the Pack's only win in an 8-1 loss. Feb. 17, against number-39 Hawaii-Hilo, the Pack failed to win but no player rolled over in the face of heightened competition. Number-four, Ashley Erickson, was especially impressive despite losing 6-3, 6-3 to Susan Souksavath.
"Ashley, like all of our girls, really stepped up her play," Durham said. "I really think she improved the most off of this trip."
The women were able to earn one win, taking a 5-4 victory over Dixie State.