By Emilee Webb, News Editor/Staff Writer
April 12, 2023
The Ouachita Baptist University Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams have been working hard in practices and in matches around the clock. Both teams began the 2023 season in February, and since they are right in the middle of the season, their schedule can be quite intense. The men’s and women’s teams both traveled to play matches over Spring Break, and this provided a time of bonding and fun for the teams, but also gave them the opportunity to keep up their practice schedule during what otherwise would have been a long break.
Junior Olivia Gaston enjoyed her time with her team over Spring Break. “The women’s team went to Dallas and Waco and played a couple of different teams,” Gaston said. “Our coaches made it really fun for us. Because there’s that big break for us, traveling for Spring Break allowed us to still get to practice and play and make sure everyone doesn’t just not practice for a week because it’s the week before conference starts.”
Sophomore Phil Exner also spent his Spring Break traveling and playing matches. “The Men’s team went to Mississippi first, and then went to Pensacola, FL and played a few teams there,” Exner said. “For the last three days, we were able to relax on the beach and have a good time there.”
The GAC tournament is coming up in three weeks. The women’s team will play in Rogers, Arkansas, and the men’s team will play the combined GAC and MIAA conference tournament in Edmond, Oklahoma. Both teams are in constant preparation for these tournaments and are looking forward to competing there.
“I always get excited because it’s our last time we get to spend together with all of the seniors before they graduate,” Gaston said. “It is also kind of emotional. Every single team in the GAC is there, which is really exciting and motivating.”
The OBU men’s tennis team won the 2022 GAC and MIAA conference title, defeating Southern Arkansas University in the championship match. Coming off of last year’s big win, the men’s tennis team is looking to take home the title again this year and are currently ranked #13 in the nation.
“We are for sure excited,” Exner said. “It would be great to win again.”
Spending so much time together, both in practices and traveling the country, leads to a team atmosphere like no other.
“Our team feels like a family, with both the players and the coaches,” Exner said. “I think the team atmosphere is great with both the men’s and women’s teams.”
As the season draws to a close, Gaston reflects on the teams’ relationships and the season they’ve had so far.
“I think on both teams, the team relationship is really good,” Gatson said. “The tennis teams are really small, so this makes the team atmosphere different than any other sport. There aren’t any cliques, and all nine of us on the women’s team are really close and enjoy spending a lot of time together.”
Both teams will continue playing matches regularly. On April 11, the women’s tennis team will take on Southern Arkansas University, and the men’s tennis team will travel to Searcy, Arkansas to face Harding University. Both teams will play against Washburn University at their home court on April 14, and the women’s team will play their last match before the GAC tournament on April 15 against Fort Hays State. Both teams will travel to the conference tournaments the following week.