April 19, 2017
UTA Notes | SBC Championship Central
Women: Live Stats | Live Audio
Men: Live Stats | Live Audio
ARLINGTON, Texas -There's just one thing on the mind's of UTA Tennis as the men and women head to the Big Easy for the 2017 Sun Belt Championship Tournament. Lifting the championship trophy.
The Maverick men are the defending Sun Belt champions after capturing their seventh all-time conference crown last year, and enter as the No. 3 seed of the tournament, taking on Georgia Southern in the opening round on Friday. For the women, this year's trip is about being able to capture their first championship as a senior class as the three seniors have come just short. The women are the No. 6 seed and face Arkansas State on Thursday.
On the men's side, UTA finished the regular season with a 14-8 overall record and were 1-0 in Sun Belt play, the one league win over Georgia Southern on March 18. Compiled with the head-to-head confidence, the experience of running through the tournament gives UTA an edge heading in according to the skipper.
"It is huge, it is huge to have that experience that you know what to expect," UTA coach Diego Benitez said. "You know that you are going to go through some nervous parts and have big pressure in parts of the match. We have already dealt with it and know those parts. This is going to be an extremely big help, but it can be a double-edged sword. We cannot get too confident. There are many teams that are capable of winning the championship, and because we are the current champion, we can't take it lightly."
Experience in tough matches also hasn't been an issue this season as the team has taken on five nationally ranked opponents, taking each deep into the match.
"Everyone in the conference is playing at a pretty good level," senior Jhonathan Gonzalez said. "So it is just about taking it one match at a time and give it our best in every spot. It helps a lot (that we have the experience of winning the tournament). We aren't thinking much about what happened last year, we just want to win it again and give it our best."
The Maverick women enter with the confidence that they have won all four of their Sun Belt matches this season, including defeating the teams that would be their first two opponents. After sweeping A-State, UTA also defeated Georgia State, the No. 3 seed, 4-1 on March 18 at home.
"I like that we have played them in the regular season," senior Angeles de los Rios said. "It helped us a lot, and we beat them both so it will give a positive thought."
If UTA can get through the first two matches of its bracket and seeds hold below the Mavs, the opponent would be a familiar one in South Alabama.
"They beat us three years in a row," de los Rios said. "We didn't want it in the semifinals, but in the finals if we could get there. It is also an incentive that we always want to beat them and never got to beat them, we are very focused and motivated to play against them."
The Jaguars have knocked out the Mavericks in two semifinal matchups and one in the championship match.