Tennis teams picked to win

Junior Sumvruta Iyengar practices on March 2 to prepare for the team’s March 3 match against Sul Ross State. The Comets defeated the Lobos 9-0 to stay undefeated this season. The men’s team also posted a 9-0 shutout against Sul Ross. Photo by Noah Whitehead | Mercury Staff.

The UTD tennis teams started their spring seasons with a combined 5-1 record after the league picked both teams as favorites to win the American Southwest Conference West Division.

The women’s team went undefeated through the first three match-ups against Concordia Texas 8-1, Whitworth 5-0 and Sul Ross State 9-0. The men’s team dropped its Feb. 25 game against Millsaps College 3-6 but won the other two, an 8-1 win over Concordia Texas and a 9-0 win over Sul Ross State.

After falling to UT Tyler in the past two finals, players from the men’s team are looking to come back from the 5-0 finals sweep they lost last season. Senior Ryan Morton said the UTD men’s team aims to improve upon its doubles play because of the 0-3 hole it put the team in during the finals.

“We were in position to win two of those three (doubles matches) and had we won two of those matches, I am very certain we would have won that match,” Morton said.

UT Tyler has won the ASC Tournament every year over the last decade, except for the 2013 UTD championship. The right to host this year’s conference tournament will be awarded to the team with the best conference record in the ASC West. Senior Alberto Hernandez said he was excited to have the chance at the home-court advantage.

“If we win the Conference West, they’re going to come here to us and we’re going to bring it home,” Hernandez said. “We expect all of the fans cheering for us, and we’re going to give them a hell of a match.”

The women’s team has been under .500 since its 2014 finals loss to UT Tyler, and started last year with a 0-7 losing streak. Bryan Whitt, head coach of both teams for 13 seasons, said it was really the conference record which matters, not the women’s losing record.

“The players want to win,” Whitt said. “But if (out-of-conference matches) get us ready for winning the west division and give us the opportunity to get more experience and really have a shot at winning the west division, then I’m indifferent to whether we win or lose, as long as we are growing and learning from it.”

Junior Sumvruta Iyengar said it’s better starting off the season 3-0 instead of 0-7, although they have yet to face the same difficult matches they had in the beginning of last year.

“We have a lot of new players on this team now, so that’s really going to give us the edge we need,” Iyengar said.

The women’s team finished among the top three teams in the division for the past three years, but have also lost in the ASC semifinals for the past three seasons.

The women’s team will play its first conference matchup on the road at Howard Payne University on March 8. The men’s team will start conference play two weeks later on March 21, also against Howard Payne University.

“The ultimate goal for both teams are to get to nationals,” Whitt said.

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