The No. 7 Brenau University Golden Tigers tennis team opens national championship tournament play at 9 a.m. CDT (10 a.m. EDT) Wednesday with a match against the No.10-ranked Crimson Storm of Southern Nazarene University.
The Tigers make their fourth consecutive appearance – and 12th overall – at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship play, scheduled May 15-19 at the Mobile Tennis Center. The Golden Tigers are one of only two teams that have won more than one national championship.
Brenau, 22-10 in all-time championship play, received at-large bid and a No. 3 seed in this year’s tournament. The Tigers drew a bye in the first round and now face the Storm, which soundly defeated unranked Missouri Valley College in May 15 opening day play.
The Tigers finished the 2011 season ranked 8th in the nation after losing in the single elimination national tournament. However, Head Coach Andre Ferreira, in his second season at Brenau, expressed optimism about the young squad.
“I am sure that team is in good shape for nationals,” he said. “Everybody is healthy, except for minor injuries, which are manageable, and team is training in full mode.”
Ferreira conceded his talented team needs experience. Half of the team is new, which requires some time for players to find the right team chemistry. Injuries slowed the Tigers in the fall and early spring, but the team managed to pull together a great season, losing only to the No. 1 and 3 teams in the nation – Auburn University-Montgomery, which has won 11 national titles, and Embry-Riddle.
Brenau senior LynSee Choo finished season with the record of 15-2 by two AUM nationally ranked players, No. 9 Jade Curtis and No. 1 Ana Veselionovic.
“It was the best season for LynSee,” said Ferreira, “especially the win against Ana, who does not lose a lot of games.”
Choo also was named the Divisional Player of the Year.
The Tigers team overcame the challenge of finding the right pairings for doubles about halfway through the season. The new combination of junior Eline Nagels and freshman Maria Perdomo Medina for Brenau’s No. 2 doubles team actually out-performed the No. 1 group, finishing the season with a 12-3 record and all-conference first team recognition. The Southern States Athletic Conference named Medina freshman player of the year.
“Eline’s hard work and experience and Maria’s good hands and talent made an outstanding combination,” said Ferreira. “They really stepped up.”