Tennis teams enter national conversation

After big wins by the men and women’s tennis teams in the past few weeks, both saw their national rankings jump up this past week. The women moved all the way up to No. 14 while the men moved up to No. 22.

The women’s team, currently 10–1, has not lost a match since Jan 23 when they fell 0–4 to the No. 5 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. In the five matches since then against Baylor, Arkansas, DePaul, Purdue and UCF, they only lost two individual games. One against Arkansas and one against UCF last weekend.

That match against UCF earned senior Saara Saarteinen an American Athletic Conference Player of the Week honor, as she and Mahitha Dadireddy won their doubles match 6–4 before Saarteinen won her single match in straight sets (6–2 and 6–1). Since the Golden Hurricane has started dual play (playing both doubles and singles matches) they have compiled a 39–5 record in singles play and three Golden Hurricanes are still undefeated at this point, including Marcelina Chichon (9–0) and Rongrong Leenabanchong (5–0) who both won against UCF. Dadireddy is the third undefeated Golden Hurricane with a 3–0 record.

The No. 14 ranking is the highest ranking that the women have had in school history, five spots higher than the No. 19 ranking that they had in the 2011–12 season.

Perhaps more indicative of the team’s strength is not any one of their wins, which they have been dominating with, but a game they did not play. Two weeks ago they were supposed to host TCU at home, but the match was cancelled because the two teams could not “come to terms.” While there was no official reason for what that means, the fact that they could not come to terms would seem to indicate that they did not want to play against Tulsa.

Their match against North Texas on Friday was the first outdoor match of season. The Golden Hurricane won handily, 4–1. TU took the early 1–0 advantage in doubles play when Leenabanchong and Martha Matoula and Saarteinen and Dadireddy both won their matches. They continued their dominance in singles play, finishing 3–1, to push their overall singles record for the season to 42–6.

The men’s team moved up seven spots after last weekend when they beat Santa Clara 4–0 before losing to Oklahoma 4–1. Their overall record heading into this weekend sits at 6–3, with a long stretch of ranked opponents over the next couple weeks.

The first game is in Ann Arbor, Michigan where they will play against No. 31-ranked Washington and No. 28-ranked Michigan. In those two games, the Golden Hurricane will face two top-100 players in the country in Mitch Stewart for Washington (95) and Jathan Mali for Michigan (60).

On Saturday the men defeated No. 31 Washington 4–1. TU won the doubles point after three closely contested games, before winning all but one of the singles matches. The men improved their overall record to 7–3. Their second match was not finished before this article was sent to press.

Next up for the women’s team, they will host Wichita State and OU in the next week and for the men, a road trip to Dallas to take on SMU next Sunday.

Post Author: tucollegian

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