Today marks the beginning of the 2006 Wilson/ITA Men’s and Women’s Regional Championships hosted by TCU.This is the first time the regional tournament has been held in Fort Worth, said Ana Cetnik, senior captain of the women’s team.
The women’s team will play the Southwest region, which includes some of the top-ranked teams from 23 Division I-A schools such as UT, LSU and Baylor.
The team won its first regional doubles title at this tournament in 2005, and was ranked No. 2 in the region last year, said head coach Jefferson Hammond. Last year, senior Helena Besovic won the singles title.
“We have a good history with this tournament and in the region,” Hammond said. “We can play with just about anybody on any given day and do well.”
Cetnik said the team’s biggest competition going into regionals will be Baylor, but said having a home-field advantage will be helpful.
Cetnik said the women’s team is second behind Baylor in the region.
“We are going to have bigger crowds cheering for us this time,” Cetnik said. “Any time you have support, you play better.”
Junior Kewa Nichols said the team is excited to play on its own court.
“We will have a tremendous advantage,” Nichols said. “We’ll be playing where we practice, we won’t have to travel and hopefully we can bring some students out.”
The singles finalists and doubles champions from this weekend will earn spots in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships Nov. 2 to 5 at Ohio State. It will be the second of three national championship tournaments for collegiate tennis this year.
“Not only can we send some girls and guys, but they are capable of doing well at that tournament,” Nichols said.
The men’s team will be competing in the South Central region, which has 13 other schools vying for a ride to the nation’s premier indoor tennis championship in November.
Senior Radu Barbu said everyone on the team has a chance to make it to Ohio.
“Everybody’s playing well,” Barbu said. “We work hard every practice, we have a great coach and we all have a chance to win this tournament.”
But graduate student Chris Biro said the competition will be tough.
“There are no easy matches,” Biro said. “We have to be ready every time we step out on the court.”
Biro said this tournament will serve as a stepping stone into the spring season, which he said is the team’s main focus.
“We’ve got a great group of guys, and there is definite potential for us all to do well,” Biro said.