Written by Alex Tostado
The VSU men’s tennis team hit the road for one of the most important weekends of the regular reason.
In the last four matches, the Blazers have squared off against four of the country’s top 10 teams. That includes top-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University and rival Barry University.
The Blazers lost all four of those matches, but that is not the only thing John Hansen, head coach, was focused on.
“I’ve been very proud of this team because what happened is exactly what I hoped would happen, which is that we would get better with each match,” Hansen said. “A lot of teams just quit playing (when they lose a game), but we aren’t in that mode.”
Meanwhile, the Lady Blazers also competed against four top 10 schools in their last four matches, so the same goes for them.
In a season where a maximum of eight Gulf South Conference games are played, three of them fall on this weekend, which is crucial.
“We got all of the big guns out of the way, so we are pretty confident,” Hansen said. “We lost to West Florida, so the highest seed we could be (in the GSC tournament) is second. Our goal is to be number two now, so that would put us on the other side from West Florida in the draw.”
In little GSC action this season, the Lady Blazers are 3-1 and the Blazers are 2-1 as both lost to UWF as mentioned above. Both the men and women have a shot to finish the rest of the season strong and set themselves up to play their best at the end of the season.
VSU will begin the trip Friday at Shorter and then head west for matches at Alabama-Huntsville and North Alabama. That means three matches in three days and in three different towns.
There is a lot of pressure to win this weekend, but the traveling shouldn’t add to any of that.
“We are always preparing to go to national, and national’s format is four matches in four days,” Hansen said. “The only way we can do that is by playing hard this weekend.”
The Blazers have played hard-fought matches against elite teams, but now they need to take care of business in the conference and win.
“We could always get our brains beat out, but we know we’ve got to win because they are conference schools,” Hansen said. “If they get down against someone, I feel that they can win the match, and that’s what we have to do.”