Tennis teams aim to make splash at tournament
The Middle Tennessee men’s tennis team received a No. 2 seed, and the women a No. 3 seed at the Sun Belt Championships hosted at the Waranch Tennis Complex in Denton, Texas, starting Thursday. It is the first time for the MT women’s program to receive a first-round bye.
Having won eight of the last nine matches, Middle Tennessee’s men sit at 16-7, reaching the most wins since 2009.
With a 2011 Sun Belt Championship to its name, the No. 53-ranked men will have their work cut out, especially with No. 48-ranked Denver posing a threat as the tournament’s top seed.
Competing for its third Sun Belt championship in four years, Middle Tennessee will need star-studded sophomore Ben Davis to lead the Blue Raiders in order to continue bringing hardware home to Murfreesboro.
Davis, overcoming a broken nose, along with arm and shoulder injuries, has been playing as the singles’ No. 1 seed all year, and continues to excel in his 2012 season.
“The main hurdle was just mentally. For him to accept that he had all these things go wrong,” said head coach Jimmy Borendame. “He finally accepted it and decided to just battle through.”
Heading into Thursday, Davis brings in a 23-8 singles record, with nine straight wins to his credit, along with a 15-4 record in doubles competition.
Borendame, the defending coach of the year, leads his squad into play Thursday at 3 p.m., taking on Western Kentucky in search of his second championship in as many years.
The women– with a 14-6 record– will be in search for the program’s first Sun Belt Championship.
“They are not complacent; not satisfied yet. They don’t have what they want, and that’s the championship,” said head coach Shelley Godwin.
Denver, along with top-seeded and nationally-ranked North Texas at No. 59, are some of the biggest competitors for the 2012 tournament. FIU, winner of the 2011 Sun Belt tournament, rounds out the top four seeds of the tournament.
Middle Tennessee opens up play at 8 a.m. Friday, and will await the winner of No. 6 seed Louisiana-Munro and No. 11 seed Arkansas-Little Rock.
“I want our girls to focus on one game at a time,” Godwin said. “The winner of UALR and Monroe, whoever wins that game is going to be a tough match.”