Bulldog netters ready for nationals

By Steve Sell
May 16, 2016

McPherson College’s tennis teams know the road well to Sweet Home Alabama.

The Bulldog women are making their third straight trip to Mobile for the NAIA National Tournament on Tuesday, while the men are repeating their trip from last year.

The Mac men, the No. 15 team in the field, take on No. 18 Warner (Fla.) University on Tuesday. The Bulldogs finished second in the KCAC, but qualified for nationals by winning the KCAC Postseason Tournament from regular-season champion Bethany, which also qualified.

“We are all very excited to be back into the national tournament for the second year in a row," Mac coach Justin Stuckey said. "We have the advantage of knowing what to expect since we played in the national championships last year. Warner will be a good first-round match for us they are an improved team from the previous season."

Mac is 13-7 on the season, but most of its losses are to NCAA Division II schools. Warner  has experienced a turnaround season, as it was 1-11 last year but 13-4 this season. It was the final at-large school to be chosen for the field. The Royals are led by brothers Rafael A. Coutinho and Rafael E. Coutinho.

The Mac women are the No. 20 seed and take on No. 13 William Carey University of Mississppi in their Tuesday opener. The Bulldogs are 12-5 and have won nine straight matches, including the KCAC Tournament championship match against Ottawa.

“We have played a very hard schedule this year with Division 1 and Division 2 schools to prepare us for the teams we could be playing at the national championships," Stuckey said.  "William Carey has a strong history of being a Top 10 program nationally so we know we will be facing a good opponent so we will have to play smart tennis come Tuesday."

William Carey has a strong international flavor, led by Daria Veretennikova, Sara Valero Marin and Natalila Baliaeva.