No. 17 Gulf Coast plays No. 22 ICC in R23 opener
Published 2:27 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2022
PERKINSTON — No. 17 Mississippi Gulf Coast will open the NJCAA Region 23 Women’s Tennis Championship against an opponent the Bulldogs have had success against this season.
Gulf Coast, which is the third-seed in the three-day event, will play sixth-seed Itawamba at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Jones, which won the MACCC championship during the regular season, is the host in Ellisville. The field also includes No. 2 Meridian, No. 4 Hinds and No. 5 Copiah-Lincoln. The top two seeds get byes into Friday’s semifinals.
Gulf Coast beat Itawamba 7-2 at Fulton and 8-1 at Perkinston during the regular season. ICC is ranked 22nd in the latest ITA Rankings.
“I think we’re going to have to do the little things right,” Gulf Coast coach Sam Blackburn said. “We need to get first serves in, make returns and not do anything too fancy. If we get too fancy, we can hurt ourselves. If we play simple, solid tennis we should be fine against Itawamba.”
The Bulldogs were Region 23 runners-up last year. If they win Thursday, they play Meridian on Friday. Gulf Coast had a player missing from both matches because of illness, but lost the first one 5-4 in Wiggins and 8-1 at Fulton.
“We’re going to have to step up and play some good tennis if we make it to the semifinals,” Blackburn said. “We’ll play Meridian who we lost to 5-4 earlier in the season. If we show up and play to win, we can win. It’s going to be determined by our mindset when we walk on the court.”
Meridian is ranked 16th by the ITA. Jones is 12th, Hinds is 19th and Co-Lin is 21st.
A win in the semifinals earns the winner an automatic spot in the NJCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Tournament in Tucson, Ariz. The finals will be played Saturday, with a third-place match determining the final qualifier for Arizona.
NJCAA Region 23 Women’s Tennis Championship
April 21-23, Ellisville
No. 4 Hinds vs. No. 5 Copiah-Lincoln, 10:30 a.m.
No. 3 Gulf Coast vs. No. 6 Itawamba, 3:30 p.m.
No. 1 Jones vs. Hinds/Copiah-Lincoln winner, 10:30 p.m.
No. 2 Meridian vs. Gulf Coast/Itawamba winner, 3:30 p.m.
Championship, 10:30 p.m.
Third-place match, 4:30 p.m.
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