Jan. 25, 2013
BEAUMONT – Only one player on Lamar’s men’s tennis team is carrying more than a season of experience into Saturday’s 2013 opener, but head coach Scott Shankles doesn’t view it in a negative light as this weekend will offer three separate opportunities to pick up a win, beginning with Alcorn State and Incarnate Word on Saturday at Thompson Family Tennis Center and concluding with Rice in Houston on Sunday.
“It’s an exciting time, and I think with a young team, Saturday will be a good gauge to see where we’re at,” head coach Scott Shankles said. “We’ve got five of the six players who are either sophomores or freshmen, and it’s going to be a pretty challenging day for them to start with a doubleheader. The guys are going to have some nerves anyway with it being the first match of the season, so it’s a good way to test those nerves as we get ready for the rest of the semester.”
Rob Lee is entering his fourth and final dual match season for the Cardinals, and he’s a resource that Shankles expects to lean on this year with two sophomores and three freshmen set to complete the LU lineup.
“Rob is going to play an important role for us this whole semester,” Shankles said. “He’s our captain and our only senior. He’s played a lot of tennis in his time here. He hasn’t missed too many matches throughout his whole career, so he’ll be able to talk to the guys and calm their nerves while also being able to lead by example with his own play. I think he’ll be a good leader for us this season, and a lot of our guys will be able to learn from that.”
Alcorn has become a regular non-conference opponent for the Cards in recent years, as the two sides have met in each of the past five seasons, with LU winning each time, and the afternoon meeting with Incarnate Word will become far more regular as the San Antonio school will join the Southland Conference next season.
“Fortunately, we’ve done well against Alcorn over the last several years, and we’re very familiar with them, but we really don’t know much about Incarnate Word,” Shankles explained. “They will be a future conference member, so we are looking forward to learning what they’re about and how they play. That will be a new experience for us, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Lamar will close out the weekend with a showdown at nearby Rice. The Owls will be entering the match ranked 54th in nation by the ITA.
“We’re going to be playing a lot of tennis this weekend,” Shankles said. “I’m glad we’ll be playing a couple home matches first because I think that will help comfort some of the players through their first weekend before we head to a very tough opponent in Rice.”
Lamar will begin its 2013 campaign on Saturday at 10 a.m. vs. Alcorn before returning to play Incarnate Word at 2 p.m.