Friday, May 12 – Match Day
Friday. Match Day. PC would make its first NCAA Tournament appearance against the Texas Longhorns. The very first appearance in the event since the school moved to Division I not just in men's tennis but in any sport. (Yea, kind of a big deal.) So to take on a nationally-prominent, well-recognized program and university like Texas makes it all the more of a big deal.
The match was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Central time but Tulane and Washington had other plans with a nearly three hour and 45-minute match. Tulane prevailed in a very well-played match by both sides to face the winner of PC and Texas on Saturday.
Finally, around 2 p.m. Central time, first serve came and the match was underway. PC put its best foot forward, proving competitive in doubles action from the get-go. The Blue Hose held serve on courts one and two in the early going, with first team All-Big South pair Alexander Lykou and Brandon Mills doing so throughout on court two for the 6-4 victory. The victory evened the doubles action at 1-1 and put PC within reach of winning the doubles point and taking a 1-0 lead against the Longhorns.
PC's top doubles pair of Ben Kelley and Joel Roberts held serve to push the score to 4-4 on court one before going on to earn a break point against UT's No. 1 pair to take a 5-4 lead. (See the players' reaction below). Ultimately, the Longhorns proved just a little too much, taking the match 7-5, but what a way to make an impression in your first NCAA action.
Texas showed why it is tabbed as one of the best programs in the country when the match turned to singles. But that didn't stop PC from competing. Alejandro Bejar was nearly able to take a set at No. 5 but Texas clinched the match with Bejar just two points away from winning a tiebreak tied at 6-6.
You can read the full recap from Friday's match here.
Following the match, PC's three seniors, Ben Kelley, Diego Manzanas and Joel Roberts, along with student assistant coach P.H. Broyhill, returned to the airport to catch a flight to South Carolina in order to be able to participate in Saturday's graduation ceremony back in Clinton.
Just underway in Austin with doubles action. Check out today's lineups pic.twitter.com/e0NR82TnEK— PC Men's Tennis (@PackthePondo) May 12, 2017
Blue Hose getting ready on a perfect day for tennis here in Austin. pic.twitter.com/V3jfoxEPpe— PC Men's Tennis (@PackthePondo) May 12, 2017
Thursday, May 11 – Practice Day
With practice scheduled for the afternoon, many of the Blue Hose got the morning off to a much later start on Thursday than the previous day. It wasn't until about mid-morning that team gathered to venture out to the University of Texas campus for some exploring and site-seeing in Texas's fourth largest city. The initial destination of the short drive proved to be one of significance for college football fans, Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium. Home to Texas Football, DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium boasts a capacity of 100,119 and has served as the home of the Longhorns for the past 92 seasons, certainly no small feat in today's world of college athletics.
After organizing there, the team took a stroll through the rather vast UT campus in Austin, which encompasses 431 acres of land. The main attraction and one of the most iconic buildings associated with the university is the Main Building Tower, located in the heart of campus. The team paused here for a few minutes to take a picture with the building in the background (see tweet below) before heading on through more of campus.
Next stop was the bookstore, a four-level building housing any and everything Texas that a person could ever want. Nearly every player left with some sort of UT souvenir, whether for themselves or perhaps a significant other. Then it was off to lunch, walking over a few more blocks to Bert's BBQ on another humid, muggy day in Austin. The barbeque – much different than what we are accustomed to in South Carolina – also received rave reviews from the players.
Finally, after walking back through campus and catching a nice view of the Texas Statehouse from one end of campus, it was time for practice. The Blue Hose went through their final preparations for Friday's match against Texas at the Caswell Tennis Center, where all of the action will take place this weekend. It was potentially the final practice for seniors Ben Kelley, Diego Manzanas and Joel Roberts, as they cap off the final season of their collegiate careers with a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The team worked for just under 90 minutes at the facility to prepare for its first match since winning the Big South Championship back on April 22, marking a span of 19 days in between matches.
With practice in the books, PC's next time on the courts will be against the Longhorns on Friday with the match scheduled for 1 p.m. Central time (2 p.m. Eastern time). Be sure to follow along with @PackthePondo on Twitter with live stats available at UTSports.com.
Team on the Texas campus with the Main Building tower in the background. pic.twitter.com/g1Y6aWRE69— PC Men's Tennis (@PackthePondo) May 11, 2017
Wednesday, May 10 – Travel Day
The trip to Austin and the NCAA Championships began with an early wake up call for the Blue Hose, with the team scheduled to leave Clinton at 4:30 a.m. to catch a 7 a.m. flight out of Greenville-Spartanburg Airport to kick off the start of a long day. The Big South Champions left GSP at 7 a.m. headed for Atlanta on what proved to be under an hour in the air on the first of three flights on the day.
PC then waited at the world's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartfield-Jackson International Airport, for its flight to Austin, scheduled for a 9:10 a.m. departure with a stop in New Orleans at around the halfway point. The players helped pass the time throughout the day engaging in a number of brain teaser-type games, as they attempted to see who could stump the group. After approximately three hours of flight time, the Presbyterian men's tennis team finally touched down in Austin just before noon Central time on Friday.
After collecting luggage and arranging ground transportation for the next few days, it was time to eat and head for the hotel. Hopdoddy Burger Bar was on the docket for lunch and quickly established itself as a player favorite, especially considering the level of hunger after a travel-filled morning. From there, it was a trip to the hotel to check in and give everyone a chance for a quick rest before the team's afternoon workout.
Head coach Patrick Fediuk worked his team through a two-hour practice at the Whitaker Courts, an off-campus facility, late in the afternoon on a cloudy and muggy but breezy afternoon deep in the heart of the Texas. Fellow Austin Regional participant Washington also got in some work during the same window of the time as the Blue Hose on the adjacent courts. It was then dinner and back to the hotel to get some much needed rest to cap off the long travel day for PC.
The Blue Hose have arrived in Texas. pic.twitter.com/lEA4OC6JZb— PC Men's Tennis (@PackthePondo) May 10, 2017