New regime leads OLLU tennis

The men’s and women’s tennis programs are set to begin the 2023 season later this month.

Dave Watts was hired in June as head coach following a stint at the University of Texas at San Antonio as the junior program director. Former Saints player Warren Fulgenzi will aid Watts as an assistant coach. Watts commented, “Warren has been a huge asset to the program. He’s usually the first person at practice, and I was happy when he agreed to come on board.”

Men’s schedule
The Saints start the season at NCAA D1 University of the Incarnate Word (2-9) on Jan. 20. OLLU faces another tough test when playing at Trinity University (0-1) on Feb. 3. They host NCAA D3 Southwestern University (0-1) at Blossom Tennis Center on March 24.

Women’s schedule
The women’s campaign begins by hosting McNeese State University on Jan. 22. The team takes a trip to Dallas to face Texas Wesleyan University on Feb. 18. The women’s solo matches end against Angelo State University on April 2.

Paired matches
Both teams host Texas Lutheran University on Jan. 27. They then face Jacksonville College (0-1-M) on Feb. 10 and make a short trip to play St. Mary’s University (2-14-M/0-7-W) on Feb. 11. The Saints head to Dallas to take on Texas A&M University-Texarkana (1-5-M) on Feb. 17 and Dallas Baptist University (2-0-M) on Feb. 18. The squads finish play in Dallas against Collin College on Feb. 19.

The Saints will play four consecutive matches together from Feb. 23-26 in Alexandria, La. They battle LSU-Alexandria, Dillard University, Xavier University (0-2-M/0-1-W) and Lewis and Clark College (2-1-M/0-1-W).

The Saints then head to Lawrenceville, Ga., where they will face tough competition. They take on Southeastern University on March 3 before battling the men’s best team in the nation. Georgia Gwinnett is the defending two-time NAIA National Champions. Last season the Grizzlies didn’t lose a match in their 21-game schedule. They are also defending champions on the women’s side. The Saints complete play in Georgia by facing William Carey on March 5 and William Woods University (0-1-M) on March 14.

The last matches involving the men’s and women’s teams will be at Blossom on March 26 against the University of St. Thomas, March 31 against Austin College (1-0-M) and April 15 against Western New Mexico.

The men’s freshmen class includes Angel Morales. Kyllian Savary joins the Saints as a junior, and Guido Picasso arrives as a senior. Katica Ivic, Alondra Milera, Kamryn Ortega and Ana Ossio are the fresh faces for the women’s squad.

The sophomore returners for the women’s team are Valerie Navarro-Cavazos and Sofia Ruiz. The junior class includes Melanie Guzman Gonzalez and Lucia Popluharova, both new to the team. Saskia Vogelzang will be the senior leader. The women’s squad earned a postseason berth last year for the first time since 2014. This year’s class is the largest in program history.

Juniors for the men are Michael Canales, Malachi Farley, Enzo Frequelin and newcomer Kyllian Savary. The men’s team will be led by seniors Chris Doyal, Johan Favelin, Caio Ravagnani and Murilo Salviato. Favelin achieved the No. 31 rank in the ITA last season, marking the first time a player has received an ITA seeding in program history.