What college has the best tennis team in the MEAC?
That’s something FAMU’s men and women’s tennis teams will soon find out in this weekend’s MEAC Round-Up in the Orlando suburb of Altamonte Springs.
The MEAC Round-Up is a tournament that will decide the seedings for the MEAC tennis championships April 20-23.
All 11 MEAC schools will be in attendance at the four-day event but FAMU will play only seven of those schools. Both teams will play Howard, North Carolina A&T, Hampton, Coppin State, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Delaware State and Morgan State.
According to James Hargrove, head coach of the women’s team, the Round-Up is very cost efficient.
Hargrove said he believes it is easier to be able to play the majority of the conference opponents at one time in order to cut back on travel expenses.
Although Hargrove said he is looking forward to the Round-Up, he is still a little weary because most of the women on the team are injured.
Asha Jaja is suffering from a knee injury and the team is waiting on a doctor’s prognosis to see whether she is available to play. Charlana Brown has an injured back. Ecka Jvania has knee problems and Alyce Bailey has thigh and foot injuries.
“They all show up and gut it out everyday,” Hargrove said. “But you don’t know how to conduct practice, or how far to push them (because of injuries).”
Brown, the No. 2 singles player on the women’s team, is also losing confidence.
“I feel iffy because a majority of the team is injured and two seniors aren’t playing,” said the senior broadcast journalism student from Los Angeles.
However, Hargrove said the team played hard last year and he knows they will play hard again this year.
The Round-Up will be the first action the women’s team has seen since a 5-2 loss at home against Georgia Southern University Jan. 22.
While the women’s team has not had a match in three weeks, the men’s team has been busy competing in five February matches. The team ended a three-match losing streak with a 6-1 victory over Jacksonville University Friday.
Zura Zhvania, the No. 3 singles player on the men’s team, feels good about the Round-Up.
“We’re a good team, we can go undefeated,” said Zhvania, a third-year business administration student from the Republic of Georgia.
Noel Wadawu, the assistant men’s tennis coach, said he thinks the men’s team has a good chance this year at the Round-Up.
“Last year we lost in the finals. This year I’m sure we’ll win,” Wadawu said.
Both the men and women practice for 2-3 hours every day and have physical training to help them prepare for the Round-Up and other matches.
Wadawu said the Round-Up is like a “show and tell” where MEAC coaches get to see the competition and know what to expect for the rest of the season.
He also said the teams to which they usually measure themselves are Hampton, Norfolk and South Carolina State.
“If we just stay consistent good things will happen.”
The four-day tournament begins Thursday, with both FAMU teams facing Maryland-Eastern Shore and Howard.
Contact Ricquel Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.