The Daily Aggie :: 07/06/08

Today we're taking a little break from our look back at The Best Wins of '07/'08 to bring you an interview with Aggie head tennis coach Don Ball. When we interview Coach Ball about his men's and women's squads' best wins of the season we also talked with him about the teams' losses to Fresno State in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament, the impact the new tennis facility has had on his program and his outlook on next year's teams.

bleedCrimson.net: Talk about the end of your teams' seasons. Both the men and the women lost to Fresno State in the semi.
Don Ball: On the women's side [Fresno State] won the WAC and went on to the round of 16 in the NCAAs and lost to the #1 seed. The Fresno women, we competed very well with them in the doubles but they were way too strong for us in the singles.

On the men's side Fresno again was a top 40 ranked team. It was exciting to play them here but we lost a very close doubles point that came down to the third doubles match and ended up in a tiebreaker in that set to decide it. We had our chances there. Then we start off and won four first sets which to the non collegeiate tennis person, that's huge because you only need four points to win and so we were well on our way. We kind of let up off the gas pedal there and they were able to sneak by us. That one hurt because we really had a good chance to win that match. We were within points of winning #1 and #2 and #3 we were playing extremely well. But we have the same team back next year so we're feeling pretty good about ourselves.

bc.net: Talk about the the outlook for next season and the benefits of having the new tennis facility and its impact on the recruiting and the players:
Don Ball: First of all the facility it was great to have it to showcase the WAC which we did. We've been in the WAC, this is our third year and I felt we did the best job of anybody running this tournament and it just went off like clockwork. I'm very proud of our facility and our personnel and our staff starting with Maria Roth on down. So we're very proud of that aspect. It does and it will lend itself to attracting bigger and better events here, bigger and better tennis players. It's on our website and you can see it and the players they're going to be talking about it. A lot of schools have already asked to come back and play at our place next year. So they're looking at this place as maybe one of their yearly ventures out on the road. That's important for us because it saves us money when teams come in and play us. That's going to be huge. It's no question that the facility is only going to get better and we can't wait to show it off to more people.

The men's team, we're the exact same team and we'll add a player or two in January. In fact we've already signed one for January that will probably go in the lineup. With that in mind we're very good. We're a year older, a year stronger, a year more mature. I would be very surprised if we don't end up nationally ranked. Our goal is to be in the Top 50 in the country and we will have our work cut out for us in the WAC because there's going to be Boise State who's always high in the rankings, Hawai'i who is loaded and won the WAC this year and has their whole team back and better players coming in. Fresno is always very good and Idaho is getting stronger. I think all five of those teams will be nationally ranked including us. WAC tennis is getting much much better so we have to really put the foot to the pedal to try to get the best possible things we can get out of the guys, it's going to be a tough road.

The women, we lost Anne [Fagegaltier] and we lost Zelja [Juricek] and so we lost our #2 and #4 player. We actually feel that we have recruited three athletes in that will be in the starting lineup. And we feel that we have one that might come in and play #1. Certainly we have the girl who played for UTEP who played #2 for UTEP who if she plays #4 for us we'll be real good. That's kind of where we've penciled her in. If she's at #4 she's going to beat most players and pick up the slack for Anne. Then we have a girl from Mexico that will come in and we think she'll make the starting lineup. And those players also are better double players. So we certainly should be contending for the top three in the conference. Obviously Fresno State being a Top 16 team that's where we'd like to be but realistically they're better than us. Boise was like around 30 they were very good and have most of their kids back so that's a big task for us as well. Nevada is very good and that's where we are really setting our sites. We want to take out Nevada this year and if we do that this year it's one step at a time to take out Boise and Fresno. We feel that this team is going to be potentially nationally ranked, probably not as high as the men. We just want to get in the Top 75 or so and if we do that then we're building.

On to today's links...

Greg Archuleta of the Albuquerque Journal writes that the Aggie defense will look familiar to Lobo fans next season.

John Moon of the Montgomery Advertiser reports that another school is implementing Coach Mumme's Air Raid.

Ferd Lewis of the Honolulu Advertiser reports that Hawai'i received a $4.9M disbursement check from the WAC due in large part to their Sugar Bowl appearance. NMSU received a check for $432,197. (Link courtesy of The Wizard of Odds)

Justin Hawkins has landed a spot on the Sacramento Kings' Summer League roster. (Thanks VIc)

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