Five TJC Tennis players advanced to small colleges individuals championship tennis tournament on Oct. 8 -12 in South Carolina and won first in two events and placed third in another.
Freshman Elizabeth Bagerbaseh, Sophomore Paige Murdock, Sophomore Joanna Savva, Freshman Matthew Rossouw, and Sophomore Vaughn Hunter all advanced to the small college national individuals championship in Sumter, South Carolina. Savva won singles, Murdock and Savva won doubles and Hunter and Rossouw placed third in men’s doubles.
“It was really exciting,” said Rossouw. “It was a different kind of pressure up there, because there’s coaches watching you from bigger schools and they’re looking at you. And there are good schools looking at you.”
The tennis program has won 32 national titles from 1980 to 2013.
“We’ve had a good showing these last two years,” said Dash Connell, tennis head coach. “There’s a lot of pressure, I think, on some of these players as well. I’ve been talking to them about taking care of opportunities. I think they did a good job this weekend of taking advantage opportunities. I always like that trip, it’s fun”
The team departed Tuesday night and flew from the Dallas airport then competed, very well according to Connell, on Wednesday.
“Some of the cool things that happened from last weekend, you understand it was a national tournaments so there are all the different regions and everyone brings a few people,” said Connell. “Elizabeth, (Bagerbaseh), she just started and she finished 5th in the nation, in that tournament. (She) did a really good job, had really tough girl in the first round … beat up on a couple girls and made them cry a little bit. The two guys, (Hunter and Rossouw), ended up third in the nation in doubles. The guys who ended up winning the tournament, we lost to them in a third set tiebreaker, it’s kind of like losing in double overtime. They recovered and won third place. These two girls, (Murdock and Savva), they were the fifth women’s team we’ve had in a row to win doubles in nation. It’s pretty crazy. And then Jo, (Savva), went on to win the singles title.”
The players practice two hours a day five days a week and have many things pushing them to become the best.
“The last couple of week it has definitely been Dash, he has definitely pushed me to put focus on my strengths and not worry about all the other distractions,” said Murdock.
The players who how advanced each had obstacle to overcome to advance to the national tournament.
“I would say being able to look past the negatively,” said Bagerbeseh. “This is my first year in college and I didn’t know what to expect, I was just here to compete. It was just looking past the fact that I didn’t want to be down on my self. Just be positive and play my best. I was my biggest challenge to enjoy what I was doing.
Tennis can compete in team national in the spring and many players are looking forward to the competition ahead.
“It’s a different national, it’s individual nationals,” said Hunter. “Nationals in the spring is the big nations. I think the nationals in the spring is way better.”