Both of Azusa Pacific’s men and women’s tennis teams have continued to rise through the ranks within the region. The men’s team is currently at 17-3, with a seven match winning streak so far. The women’s team is at 13-7, with a two match winning streak.
Both teams are also nationally ranked, with the men currently ranked 11th and the women currently ranked 21st.
“We’re pretty cohesive as a team this year which is super important in order to accomplish our goals,” senior Shepherd Newcomb said.
The team’s ultimate goal is to win the PacWest championships and then win the National Championship. They recently played against Biola, Concordia and Pomona-Pitzer in a three-day back-to-back frenzy. April 6, against Biola, the men’s team won 8-1, and the women also won 8-1. The following day against Concordia, the men won 8-1 and the women won 9-0. On April 8, the men’s team faced off against Pomona-Pitzer and won for the third time in a row at 5-4.
“Our conference is super tough, and almost every single school in it is ranked nationally within the top 50,” sophomore Kara Hinton said.
The next match both teams have is against the University of California, San Diego. The women’s team will play them first on April 12, and the men’s team will face off with them on April 15. UCSD has always been a big match for Cougars’ tennis teams.
“Our girls have worked really hard to get to the level they wanted to be during the second half of the year after some tough matches started the year,” assistant tennis coach Kirby Ronning said. “We’ve been working on doubles so that’s been a big area of improvement throughout the season, and they’re competing harder and really fighting for each other in every one of the matches.”
As of now the men and women’s tennis teams are experiencing high tension as they continue to move forward to the PacWest playoffs. The PacWest Championships will be from April 20-22, and will be held in Surprise, Arizona.
One team that APU will be preparing for is Hawaii Pacific, the defending D-II National Champions, and a team that has made it to the championship over the past three years. They are also the only D-II team the men’s tennis team has lost to this season.
Despite the mountain both teams face, it doesn’t seem like they are too worried about what comes before them.
“Our team works so incredibly hard, and I have never met a group of girls that want to win and want to work hard so bad,” Hinton said. “We always stay extra after practice, whether it is to hit more balls or do more conditioning. We want to be the best, and we all know what it takes to get there, so we work hard.”
When the men’s and women’s tennis teams are thoroughly examined, the passion and dedication each team member has for the sport, teammates, and coaches is evident. Their assurance of themselves reveals the work ethic each team has put into this season.
“I wouldn’t want to play for any other team. I mean, I’d play for the Dallas Cowboys but I’m not exactly expecting their call,” Newcomb said jokingly. “I’m just really thankful to be a part of this program and work with the coaches and teammates I’m around every day.”
Although the regular season is almost at its end, there is still more work that needs to be done. Both nationally ranked Cougar teams will look to have a strong finish to their impressive seasons.