Mustangs seek C-USA crown

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SMU junior David Costa returns a volley during play. (MICHAEL DANSER/The Daily Campus)

The SMU men’s tennis team (14-10) has upped their game at just the right time, winning their last four matches before they travel to Houston, Texas to participate in the Conference USA Championships this weekend, April 23-25.

The Mustangs benefited from their schedule at the end of the season, playing their final nine matches at home. SMU went 7-2 in the stretch, including wins over No. 34 Brigham Young University and No. 63 Texas Christian University. Their two losses were to Columbia University and the University of Notre Dame.

The most consistent player for SMU has been junior Darren Walsh, winner of nine straight singles matches and, along with Adham el-Effendi, is also a part of the No. 29 doubles tandem in the nation. Walsh’s last lost came at the beginning of March against No. 78 Josh Zavala from the University of Texas.

In the same match against Texas, junior Artem Baradach, then ranked No. 99, defeated Dimitar Kutrovsky, who was ranked No. 7 in the nation. Since then, Baradach has risen in the ranks and is now the No. 57 player in the nation.

In the course of the season, the Mustangs played three C-USA squads and went 2-1. They lost the match to Tulsa, 4-3, before blowing out Southern Miss, 6-1, and Memphis, 6-1. Their final match against Rice University was cancelled due to rain. The match would have been a good measuring stick for SMU, as the Owls were ranked No. 38 in the nation at the time.

Tulsa (No. 36) and Rice (No. 41) will be the favorites going into the championships. However, SMU (No. 72) is definitely a contender, but will have to beware of the Golden Hurricane, which is looking for their fifth consecutive C-USA championship.

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