PERKINSTON – A long slate of matches in the fall and spring has led the 16th-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast men's tennis team to the NJCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championship.
The Bulldogs met Friday morning to head to Plano, Texas, where the tournament starts Monday.
"I'm excited. It's something we've all been looking forward to all year," said Noah Tippen, who won two state and region championships this year. "We want to do well. We've put ourselves on a national stage. Now that we're there, we want to do well while we're out there."
The players tossed a Frisbee easily in the parking lot Friday, waiting for the bus to depart. A dump truck delivering a load at the nearby Ken "Curly" Farris Field construction used the MGCCC Tennis Complex to turn around, and they joked that it was their ride to Texas.
Of course, it wasn't. The Bulldogs travel on MGCCC's charter-style bus, and Bourgeois measured the length of their trip in a unique way.
"It's four movies," he said of the roughly 10-hour trip.
Tippen won the No. 3 singles titles, and teamed with No. 6 singles state champion Brennan O'Keefe to win No. 2 doubles at the MACJC/Region 23 Tournament on April 23 in Perkinston.
Gulf Coast finished 12th in the tournament last year, with MACJC restrictions on international players making a top 15 finish the team's goal. The Bulldogs were the top MACJC team at nationals last year.
There are a number of injury concerns this year. No. 1 singles player Slyer Flowers is out with a shoulder injury, with Bryan Allen filling in for him. O'Keefe and No. 5 singles player Chris Diep are also nicked up.
"It's been continually getting worse. Chris is a warrior playing through it," Bourgeois said. "The injury bug is definitely affecting us, but when you go out there, there's a lot of adrenaline. I expect these guys to rise to the occasion."
More tournament information: http://www.collin.edu/athletics/national_tourn/information.html
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