No. 13 Bulldogs head to nationals this week
Published 3:54 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023
PERKINSTON — No. 13 Mississippi Gulf Coast will load up the bus Thursday and head to Tyler, Texas, for the NJCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Tournament.
They’ll get some practice in out there, and coach Sam Blackburn will attend the coaches meeting Friday morning where the seedings and brackets will be set. Then, they’ll try to finish the 2023 season with a bang when the tournament starts Saturday.
“The goal is to finish the great year we’ve had in the most excellent way,” he said. “The goal is to finish strong. We’ll see if we get a good draw and see what happens after that.”
The Bulldogs (14-5) have been grinding the past two weeks since the Region 23 Tournament ended with them as runners-up. They’ll be hoping to get a good draw and make some noise out there.
Blackburn has concentrated on maintaining and improving fitness. All singles and doubles matches in the championship bracket will be best-of-three sets with full third sets. Singles play in the morning, with doubles later in the day.
Gulf Coast finished 18th at the national championship last year in Arizona, and Bayley Askin (So., St. Martin/St. Martin) was part of the No. 3 doubles tandem that made it to the consolation bracket finals.
“Last year was really fun,” the two-time All-MACCC performer said. “I think we all did super well, even though most of us were out there for the first time. We only had a couple of sophomores. It was a good experience, so we know what’s coming this year, for sure.”
Abigail Garman (So., Diamondhead/Hancock) also made it to the No. 5 singles consolation finals.
Gulf Coast made a road trip to Tyler earlier this season to play three tough opponents, giving them another taste of what’s in store this time out there.
Tanyaradzwa Kaome (So., Harare, Zimbabwe/The Heritage School) is the 38th-ranked singles player in the country, and teams with Angela Moreno (Fr., Sevilla, Spain/IES V Centenario) to form the No. 25 doubles team.
“I’m looking forward to playing in Texas,” Kaome said. “I learned that it’s part of an experience. There’s no point in being nervous. You have to leave it all out there because it’s the end of the year and that’s what we’ve been practicing for.”
For more information on MGCCC’s 11 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.