The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's tennis team has a luxury that most teams around the country do not enjoy, they play host to the longest-running tournament in the nation, the HEB Tournament of Champions College Tennis Championships. It is one of the top team tournaments in the nation.
"This tournament is arguably the most prestigious high level team tournament in the country," said Moore. "Forty-four years in a row is a very special tradition and I cannot thank HEB enough for their long generous support."
For the second year in a row, the Islanders have found a way to make the finals of the nationally ranked eight team field. It is quite a coup for a smaller school like TAMUCC to make the finals over national powerhouses such as Brigham Young and New Mexico.
"There's no doubt we've played our best here, we definitely have an edge in this tournament," said Moore. "The crowd and the community support just makes these guys want to fight extra hard when they see what this community does to put this tournament on."
Having hundreds of people show up to your matches is not a common occurrence in college tennis. In addition to the support from the community to house the athletes that travel to the event, the crowds came out to support the Islanders. That gracious support had the Islanders in a very thankful mindset. That is exactly what they did by knocking off the #1 seed in the tournament, the 33rd-ranked New Mexico Lobos.
"To have hundreds of people show up and cheer you on, it just makes you want to thank them for the support," said Moore.
The Islanders had lost a road match to New Mexico by a 4-2 score earlier in the season in Albuquerque. The Islanders turned around and beat the Lobos by a 4-1 score in front of their home crowd on Friday to reach the finals of the HEB Tournament of Champions against Texas Tech.
"There were a few guys on our team that I could just sense that they were not taking no for an answer," said Moore. "They were going to find a way to win their match even if it meant staying out there for four hours.
"The guys remember what an electric feeling it was to play Texas Tech here in front of that big crowd and they wanted another chance to play them in front of that big, electric crowd."
The Islanders began the week at #52 in the nation but should significantly move up this week after a strong performance at the HEB Tournament of Champions. The Islanders strongest wins previously were against #41 Nebraska and #60 Indiana, they now add wins over #33 New Mexico and #53 Middle Tennessee to improve their position.
"The NCAA tournament in tennis is the same as basketball, you have to be highly ranked to get in automatically," said Moore. "That is one of our goals, to have two chances to get in, by a high ranking or the Southland Conference automatic bid."
For the second year in a row, the HEB Tournament of Champions has propelled the Islanders into that position.