The men's and women's tennis teams are heading into the Sun Belt Conference Tournament with championship aspirations.
The women’s tennis team enters the tournament as the No. 5 seed and will play the No. 4 seeded University of South Alabama in a quarterfinal match Friday at 8 a.m. at the Peachtree City Tennis Center in Peachtree City, Georgia.
If the women’s team advances to the semifinals, a matchup versus top-seeded Troy University would be a rematch of one UTA lost 4-3 in March.
Senior Agustina Serio will miss the conference tournament. Serio suffered a torn ACL in her match Sunday, per Michael Eldridge, assistant athletics communications director. Despite it all, Serio was named as a second-team all-conference selection.
With the injury, all singles players will be moved up a position. Freshman Lucia Natal is being looked at to replace Serio on the doubles team along with sophomore Anna Wichert, head coach Diego Benitez said.
In regular season play, UTA carried a record of 5-1 versus conference opponents.
Benitez said he is taking an inexperienced squad, but the race to the conference title is wide open.
“This year in the conference there isn’t one or two teams you can say are the best, like in previous years,” Benitez said. “This year there are four, five even six teams that could win the conference. We’re happy we don’t play Thursday, we have a bye and the girls are super excited.”
The men’s team is the No. 6 seed and will play the No. 3 seed University of South Alabama at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
UTA will be led by junior Guanarteme Nuez, who was named the Sun Belt Conference Men's Tennis Player of The Year and sophomore Enrique Pardo who was named the SBC Newcomer of the Year.
Nuez, along with junior Mauricio Del Rio garnered first-team all-conference honors in doubles.
Individually, Nuez earned first-team honors while Pardo and Del Rio took second-team, respectively.
The men’s team is entering the tournament on a four-match losing streak, but three of those matches were decided 4-3.
UTA has faced one conference opponent in its regular season schedule, in which The Mavericks fell 4-2 to Troy in March.
Benitez said the team has faced much adversity, but has responded well.
“We’ve been playing with a man less all season, but we’ve adapted and tried filling the hole and we’ve played some good tennis,” Benitez said.
With the tournament being played in a single-elimination format, the team can get on a hot streak and win the championship.
“The conference tournament is unique that anyone can play well, and play inspired in those three or four days and take the trophy,” Benitez said.