Kings and queens of the court
Tennis teams continue their reign
over conference opponents

 
 
     
 

The men’s and women’s tennis teams have combined for seven Southland Conference championships in the last four years, yet head coach Patric DuBois isn’t comfortable labeling his program a dynasty.

“What’s the definition of a dynasty?” he asks with a laugh. “I wouldn’t say we’re a dynasty. But we’re at a level where our men’s and women’s teams are always in a position to win first place in the conference.”

It’s a familiar position.
The men’s team won its fourth consecutive SLC title in April by defeating U.T. San Antonio, 4-0, in the conference tournament.

 
“I wouldn’t say we’re a dynasty. But we’re at a level where our men’s and women’s teams are always in a position to win first place in the conference.”
 
– tennis coach Patric DuBois

The Mavericks swept the doubles matches, then won three straight singles matches to avenge their only conference loss of the regular season. The men, who entered the tournament seeded second behind UTSA, posted 4-0 victories over Centenary and Southeastern Louisiana in the first two rounds.

The women’s team proved just as formidable during the tournament, defeating Southeastern Louisiana, 4-0, in the semifinals and UTSA, 4-0, in the finals. The Lady Mavericks won all 10 regular-season conference matches for the third consecutive year. Including tournament victories, they have won 36 straight matches against SLC foes.

Individual honors with an international flair
The women also dominated the postseason conference awards, capturing nine of the 12 spots on the All-SLC first team. Topping the list was senior Lisa Jackson, who was named to the first team in No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles with Marketa Cizova. Jackson also won her second consecutive Player of the Year award.

Also selected to the first team in singles were Cizova, Marie Stepanova, Jitka Vetrovcova and Ana Lukner. Lukner and Gwendolyn Behrendt were named to the first team in No. 2 doubles, and Behrendt also earned Freshman of the Year honors.

On the men’s side, junior Andy Leber was named the Player of the Year for the second straight season and was selected to the first team in No. 1 singles. Senior Per-Erik Karlsson earned first-team recognition in both singles and doubles, and sophomore Alon Goldshuv was a first-team singles selection. David Corrie was named Freshman of the Year.

The award winners— and their teammates— read like a roll call at the United Nations. The men’s team features players from South Africa, Norway, Austria, Poland, Lebanon, Israel, England, Columbia and the United States. Women’s players hail from South Africa, Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovenia and the United States.

A communication breakdown? Almost never, DuBois says.

“It’s rare that we have communication problems,” says the seven-time SLC Coach of the Year, who notes that all the players speak English fluently. “Our teams do very well academically.
We steer away from the borderline students.”

Searching for the next Sampras
When recruiting, DuBois first steers toward players in Texas and the United States. But inevitably the search leads overseas, in part because associate head coach Christian Wassmer and graduate assistant Christian Jaeger are German natives.

“Our assistant coaches have strong European ties, and we’ve made lots of contacts throughout the world,” DuBois says. “Frankly, it’s tough for us to get the quality of players we need in Texas and the U.S. There just aren’t enough to go around.”

The success of both teams has made the recruiting process easier. The men have been nationally ranked the past five years and the women the past two years. Lofty rankings attract international players, DuBois says.

Postseason play also helps the program gain recognition. The men’s team made its first NCAA Tournament appearance this season, and the women’s team received its third consecutive tournament berth.

“It definitely helps in recruiting when you put on your résumé that you went to the NCAA Tournament,” DuBois says. “Plus, it’s a nice bonus for our players at the end of the year.”
Although both teams lost to higher-ranked opponents in the first round, DuBois hopes the experience will pay dividends next season. And the future looks promising.

The men lose two seniors but return Player of the Year Leber. The women must replace Player of the Year Jackson, but everybody else returns. With the addition of two top German recruits for the women and a junior college All-American from Beaumont for the men, the teams appear primed to continue their SLC reign.

 

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