Driving down Palmer Street it is hard to ignore the new JoeAnn Medlock Murphey tennis complex. The complex is the proud home to TJC’s Men’s and Women’s Tennis Team who have a full season ahead of them.
“We look forward to every match, teams we are supposed to beat and teams we are not supposed to beat,” Head Coach John Peterson said.
Coach Peterson views all the matches as a learning experience for the team. When it comes to Ouachita Baptist, a team comprised mostly of older European athletes that has defeated TJC Men’s Tennis Team in 2007 and 2008, he sees it as a glimpse of Division I play for his team.
“It gives us credibility, prepares us for other teams, and shows our guys what it takes to play Division I,” Peterson said.
This season TJC has eight sophomores on the men’s roster who make up two thirds of the squad. Even with the returning players their goals are still the same.
“Every player is still striving to get better. Because they are sophomores, they are familiar with the terminology and drills I use,” Peterson said.
In play, it is easy to see each player’s personality, but Coach Peterson insists no one player overshadows another.
“We do not have standouts. Nine of our guys are capable of beating each other any day of the week. We are a very balanced team,” Peterson said.
Jon Hailey, the captain of the men’s team, is also confident about the team’s schedule.
“We have a good schedule, a lot of good matches at home. I’m looking forward to playing Laredo,” Hailey said.
Although Hailey has confidence in his team, he is still conscious of the team from Ouachita Baptist.
“They are a good team. We did well against them, but they have new guys. So hopefully we can get the W, [win]” Hailey said.
Although the tennis team has a large trophy room with trophies and plaques from 1980 to last year, the attendance to their matches is less than stellar. This could be attributed to a tennis tradition of a quiet audience.
“Crowds are usually quiet, but regionals had a lot of soccer and volleyball players show up. So it was a little rowdier,” Brianna Hopps, athletic trainer to the tennis team, said.
Home matches are an opportunity to catch the men and women’s teams in action. The men’s team does seem to get more attention.
“Guys get a bigger crowd because they lose their temper faster,” Hopps said.
Even though tennis is not a contact sport, matches are still very aggressive. Each match can be considered a duel between two opponents forcing a ball towards the other at tremendous speeds.
“Tennis should cure itself of the quietness. It’s nice to have to quiet the crowd than for no one to be there at all,” Peterson said.