LCSC tennis teams open national tournament play today
The Lewis-Clark State College men’s and women’s tennis teams are headed back to familiar territory, but that doesn’t make their task any easier.
Both teams will take part in their respective NAIA National Tennis Championships, which will be held at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala., starting on Monday.
The Warrior men, who are 12-10 overall, and the women, 9-8 overall, both won the Region I title and earned automatic berths to the tournament by being ranked in the NAIA final top 25 poll. The men came in at No. 19, while the women are ranked No. 22
For the men, this is the 18th trip to nationals, while the women are going for the 15th time. Both have streaks of more than 10 consecutive years of playing at the national tournament.
However, both teams face big tasks. The Warrior men open play on Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific time against Lindenwood of Missouri. Lindenwood is ranked No. 16 in the country and is 20-4 overall. The winner of that match faces the tough task of meeting No. 1-ranked Auburn Montgomery on Tuesday, also at 10 a.m. The Senators are looking for their third straight national title and eighth overall. AUM is 23-1 on the season and ranked No. 1.
On the women’s side, LCSC opens at 6 a.m. Pacific time, against Indiana Wesleyan, which won the Region VIII title with a 23-3 record. Indiana Wesleyan is ranked No. 15 in the final NAIA poll. No. 2-ranked Fresno Pacific awaits the LCSC-Indiana Wesleyan winner on Tuesday. Fresno Pacific defeated Azusa Pacific for the Region II title last week and Azusa Pacific beat LCSC earlier this season 9-0 during the Warriors’ road trip to California. Both Warrior teams played three Top 25 opponents during that trip and gained valuable experience.
LCSC coach Kai Fong says both Warrior teams are focusing on the first-round matches and are not worrying about potential second-round matchups.
“These are two new teams that we will get to play for the first time,” Fong said of the first-round matches. “Indiana Wesleyan University is a very established women’s team and they have always been ranked ahead of us for as long as I can remember.”
The Warriors haven’t had a match in two weeks and have been spending extra time on doubles play.
“This is an exciting time of the year for us,” Fong said. “We get to play different teams in an awesome environment. Half of the Warriors will be in Mobile for the first time. It can get pretty overwhelming but hopefully, the experience and knowledge of having played some of the top-ranked teams on the California will have some beneficial effect on the players.”