TENNIS TODAY: Intramurals provide some chance to play without pressure
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I spent last weekend in Austin at the USTA Tennis On Campus state tournament. This is college tennis on the intramural level. Except now, it's school against school - not just within your own college - and it's full of college spirit and very good competition. Texas is large enough that it receives seven bids into the national tournament.
Texas took first place, with Baylor taking second and Texas A&M finishing third. Texas State took fourth place in the event, SMU was fifth. The top seven from the tournament will be at nationals
In a nutshell, it's junior varsity tennis on the college level, with no disrespect meant. Moreover, it is a testament to how good each school's varsity program is. These kids are good, but they are playing without the pressure of maintaining a scholarship, and it fosters a fun and spirited environment.
All of the rivalries are still there, but these kids get along off the court and enjoy themselves - unlike my memories where I would not even speak to a rival opponent on or off the court. I think that started in high school and then progressed into college. Hate is a very strong word, but you get the idea.
Ryder Billo, of Goliad, won boys A singles again in Aransas Pass, beating Collin Hartman in the semifinals and David Du in the finals. Both Hartman and Du are from St. Joseph. Billo is now 22 and first singles. Victoria East and West were off last weekend.
Also, the Victoria Tennis Association held its first mixer play day last Saturday. It was well attended as just over twenty players participated in the event. It was a bit windy and blustery, but they all played through it. In the association's annual meeting, Sarah Thompson was voted in as the new president, and Mike Sherman was voted in as vice president. Their goal is to get the number of participants up threefold.
It will happen as spring tennis continues to be on the upswing. The next event is scheduled for April 13 and will include singles and doubles and perhaps some mixed doubles as well. Put it on your calendar and plan to attend. I will be reminding the community of this event again soon.
On the pro tour, men and women are competing in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., on the short but fascinating hard court season before they move to the clay court surface. Remember, the first tour event on clay this year is in Houston at River Oaks Country Club. It's the U.S. Clay Court Championships on April 8-14.
It is a great event that is basically right here in our backyard. Six of the top 25 players in the world make this a world-class event. However, it is an intimate venue that is very player friendly and, more importantly, very fan friendly. It is very easy to meet the players, have a chat and get a picture.
Tickets are available now at mensclaycourt.com or by calling the box office at 713- 874-6294.
See you all on the courts!
Philip Perez is the assistant tennis pro at Victoria Country Club. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.