The nationally-ranked Texas A&M – Corpus Christi's men's tennis team and the Islanders women's tennis team will face challenging 2012 schedules, including home openers at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center against national-powerhouse opponents, it was announced today by Director of Tennis Steve Moore.
The men's team will open play at home against Texas, who spent most of last season in the top 10 rankings, while the women host Rice, a team that was ranked for all of last season, in their home opener. Texas has made the semifinals or finals of the NCAA Championships in three of the last five years, and been ranked in the top 10 for five years in a row.
"I think two of the greatest days of Islanders Tennis will be the first-ever matches at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center where Rice comes to play the women and Texas comes to play the men," said Moore. "These will be two incredible events for this great University and this great tennis community. We're hoping to pack the place in our first home matches ever at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center.
"We're very excited about this year. These teams are working extremely hard and have very good character, leadership and culture. We're looking forward to competing with all our hearts for this great tennis community at our new facility. I think our teams have earned the reputation for competing with great spirit and we will certainly bring that spirit."
After playing at venues such as the Corpus Christi Country Club, Corpus Christi Athletic Club and the HEB Tennis Center the last several years, the Islanders will finally have a home facility to call their own during the 2012 season.
"The new facility has been an absolute blessing, it's really uplifted the spirit of the teams practicing there," said Moore. "We are also grateful beyond words at the way this tennis community, which I believe is the best in the United States, has reached out to support our teams with facilities, donations and support. I could go on forever on that topic."
The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's team is coming off of a fourth-straight Southland Conference Championship and the third NCAA Championships appearance in four years. The team has reached the top 50 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's national rankings each of the last four seasons.
For the season opener, the Islanders men will travel to New Mexico for four dates against tough competition. On Jan. 19, the team will open at New Mexico State and follow with a match against Utah State the next day in Las Cruces, N.M. Once those matches are complete, the team will make a trip inside the state to Albuquerque where they will face Nevada on Jan. 22 and New Mexico on Jan. 23. After the trip out west, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi will return to Texas for a Jan. 25 match against TCU in Ft. Worth.
The men's team will have one of the top tennis teams in the nation for their home opener, with perennial power Texas playing at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center at 2 p.m. on Feb 12. The Longhorns have been in the ITA rankings for 21-straight years, including finishing the season in the top 10 on 11 different occasions.
After the home opener against Texas, the Islanders play matches against Louisiana – Lafayette on Feb. 15 in Lafayette, and against Prairie View A&M (Feb. 19) and St. Mary's (Feb. 23) in Corpus Christi, before hosting the 46th Annual HEB Tournament of Champions.
The event, which will be hosted at both the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center and at the HEB Tennis Center, will feature national programs BYU, Oklahoma State, DePaul, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee and Western Michigan in addition to the Islanders. Play in the tournament will be from March 2-3 in Corpus Christi.
The rest of the schedule features Southland foes Nicholls, UT Arlington, UTPA and Lamar, and non-conference action against UMBC, Prairie View A&M and Rice.
The Islanders women's tennis team completed the greatest season in school history a year ago to finish fourth in the Southland Conference, the highest-ever finish in school history. The women knocked on the door of the ITA rankings all year, barely missing the coveted Top 75 ranking published by the organization.
The women's team opens the season with a Jan. 26 match on the road against Prairie View A&M before coming home for the Jan. 28 match at 2 p.m. against Rice at the Thomas J. Henry Tennis Center. The Owls were ranked as high as No. 44 last year and finished in the ITA rankings for the past two years.
After the opener, the Islanders travel to Dallas for a neutral site match against Southland Conference member Central Arkansas on Feb. 4. The final three matches in February come on the 15th, against Louisiana – Lafayette on the road in Lafayette, and a pair of home matches in Corpus Christi. A return match against Prairie View A&M falls on the 19th, while a match on the 23rd against St. Mary's completes the month.
In March, the Islanders play Southland foe Nicholls on the 11th and UTSA on the 14th, before hosting South Alabama, Sam Houston State and Texas – Pan American on the 16th and 17th in the Islanders Team Classic at the Tennis Center. UMBC visits the Coastal Bend on March 22, while Texas State makes the trip on the 31st.
Texas A&M – Corpus Christi will finish the season with matches at home against UT Arlington (April 1), McNeese State (April 14) and Lamar (April 15), and one on the road against Stephen F. Austin (April 5) and Sam Houston (April 7).
For the latest on Islanders Tennis, like the team on Facebook (Islanders Tennis) and follow them on Twitter (@IslandersTennis).