Coach Billy Power leads his team at the intermural courts.
Angi Foster plays in women's doubles.
© Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern
Varsity team from "another" section
By Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern
It’s a Southern tournament of club teams … right?
No, not really.
Texas A&M Texarkana is competing but not winning much at the USTA Tennis On Campus Southern Championships even though they are a varsity team.
The school recently changed from a junior/senior institution (just junior and senior classes) to a four-year university, explained head coach Billy Power. The conversion is called expanding downward. Just this fall, Texas A&M Texarkana began athletics and Power was put in charge of the tennis program. Existing students were invited to play, Power said. He didn’t say anything about trying out.
"Our players are 3.0 and 3.5 NTRP," he explained. Adult players in those levels, which are part of the USTA’s adult rating system, are considered as below average and average. Varsity players in most schools are 4.0 to 5.5.
"One of our best players played No. 4 on a low-rated high school," Power, who is director of tennis at Texarkana Country Club. The team plays and practices at this club.
TAMT began play in the fall and played weekly tournaments in Texas. "We could take the whole team, play three matches and it only cost us $600."
Recruiting is Power’s top priority. "It’s tough to get players to come until we are in a division. Our goal is to be accepted to (NCAA) Division II or III or NAIA in 2014."
While the team’s varsity status is unique, their location has raised eyebrows by Southern teams."One team asked, ‘Are you from Texas A&M? That’s a long drive.’ Well, we had an 11-hour drive but it would have been a lot longer if we had come from the main campus," he explained.
However, Texarkana, Texas is in the USTA Southern Section. Click for map of Texarkana. While the section is usually described as being nine Southern states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee – a sliver of the section is in Texas and Arkansas. Four counties in Kentucky are not in Southern but in the Midwest Section.
Why? The USTA decided years ago that metro areas on section borders shouldn’t be broken up so that players and teams could compete with others in their areas.