Men’s Tennis Team Set to Host Conference Championship Tournament
The Comets Softball Team Will Open Double-Elimination ASC Tourney on Thursday at UT Tyler
Esteban Bustillos, editor-in-chief of The Mercury — the student newspaper at UT Dallas — wrote the following article about the men's tennis team.
Sophomore Alberto Hernandez returns a shot during the Comets' season-opening match against Southwestern University in February. The Comets have won seven consecutive matches and were unbeaten in ASC West Division play.
After finishing its season with an undefeated record in the American Southwest Conference’s West Division, the men’s tennis team is preparing to host the conference tournament for a shot at the championship.
To win the tournament, which starts Thursday, the Comets will have to best an old foe that also has gone undefeated in conference play — UT Tyler.
Last year, the Comets were 5-9 overall, including a 2-2 mark in the conference. The team qualified for the ASC tournament, but fell 5-1 in the first round to the University of the Ozarks. This year, the team’s fortune has taken a turn for the better, with the Comets posting a 7-1 overall record and going 5-0 in the ASC West Division. The Comets will face the Ozarks on Thursday afternoon in the first round of this year's tournament.
Head coach Bryan Whitt said the biggest reason for improvement has been the squad’s depth of talent.
“Some teams have a strong, nationally ranked-type No. 1 (player), but if they don’t have anything behind it, they’re only getting one point,” he said. “We have some good players at the top, but we also have depth all the way through. My No. 5 is undefeated; my No. 4 is undefeated in West Division play. We can get points from anywhere in the lineup.”
He said that talent helps to take some of the pressure off the top players, so they don’t have to feel as if they have to score all of the team’s points.
Sophomore Rodney Brown said another key part of the team’s success this year is the unity that members have on and off the court.
“I think we bond really well together,” he said. “And with that aspect it allows us to really compete out there. … We’re out there not fighting individually, but fighting as a team for UTD.”
2016 ASC Men's Tennis
Hosted by UT Dallas
Parking: All spectators are requested to park in Lot U, located south of the UTD Tennis Courts. For more parking information, click here.
Weather: If weather forces the tournament to be moved to an indoor facility, matches will be played at Life Time Fitness Plano, at 7100 Preston Road in Plano, Texas. Follow the Tournament Central page for updates.
T-Shirts: Tournament T-shirts will be available for purchase at the tournament for $15 each.
While hosting the tournament comes with advantages, Whitt said it also comes with challenges, such as players not being in the same hotel together and having more distractions around them.
But he said that hosting may give the Comets a home-court advantage.
“I think we’re going to be able to get a lot of people out and make it a rowdy environment, which hopefully can inspire our guys and keep them fired up and keep their energy level high,” he said. “You don’t usually get that when you’re on the road, because the other team, they try to do the opposite to you. So from that standpoint, it’s good.”
Although the Comets are favored to win a majority of their early matches, Whitt said they will have to face a number of unknown factors since they will be playing a team from the East Division.
The only team they have played this year from the East has been East Texas Baptist University.
“It is a challenge. … You don’t get a chance to kind of look at what you’re dealing with,” he said.
East Division champion UT Tyler, which was recently ranked as high as No. 32 in the country, is the favorite to meet the Comets in the tournament final.
Although UT Tyler is favored to win the title, Whitt expects his team to compete for the crown.
“From our standpoint, I want to be winning points at various spots and having a chance with matches on the court to beat whoever we play in the finals if we make it,” he said. “If we can go in and maybe steal a doubles point, maybe get up a set or two in some areas in some different spots and then make that other team think, ‘Hey, wait a second, we might have a chance to lose,’ then we’ve got a chance.”
Softball Team Enters Postseason Play as No. 3 Seed
The Comets celebrate a home run by Sara Navarro (16) during an 8-0 win over the Ozarks earlier this month.
The UT Dallas softball team will open the the American Southwest Conference Softball Championship Tournament at 10 a.m. Thursday against Louisiana College at Suddenlink Field on the campus of UT Tyler.
The Comets (22-18), making their third appearance in four years in the double-elimination tournament, secured their highest-ever seed in the event since the conference went to a single-division format. They earned the No. 3 seed after a three-game sweep of Louisiana College in the final weekend of the regular season.
UTD leads the ASC with 114 stolen bases, four shy of the league record. Freshman outfielder Melissa Livermore leads the ASC with a .496 average with a conference-record 48 steals. Livermore also set a school season record for runs (42) and matched the program mark for hits in a season (64). Sophomore outfielder Stefanie Polderman is second on the squad with a .354 average, while senior designated player Sara Navarro boasts a .351 average. Junior first baseman Brittany Perkins leads UTD with five home runs, while junior third baseman Kendall Moore has a team-best 10 doubles.
2016 ASC Softball
Hosted by UT Tyler
Junior pitcher Lauren McLeod, who has a 15-7 record and a 2.11 earned run average, set the school record for shutouts in a season (nine) and matched the program mark for complete games (20). She ranks second in the ASC in wins, fourth in strikeouts and seventh in ERA.
The Comets posted an 18-12 mark in ASC play in 2016, matching the program record for conference victories. The ASC tournament winner earns an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].