Men’s tennis faces challenges

With two matches under its belt, John Brown University’s men’s tennis team is firing up for two more matches against Southwestern College and Oklahoma Baptist today.

The team kicked off this season with a 7-2 loss against Hendrix and a quick comeback of 7-2 win against College of the Ozarks in Conway, Ark. As their matches approach, the team is looking forward to provoing their worth.

Nathan Kuykendall, freshman tennis player who started off his collegiate career 4-0, is especially looking forward to competing with Oklahoma Baptist. Kuykendall, who tried out for Oklahoma Baptist’s team and was turned away, is excited to represent the University in the upcoming match.

“OBU has a strong team,” Kuykendall said of their men’s team. “They’re very serious about what they do and they’re very good.”

The low funding provided for the University’s tennis program serves as further motivation to do well as a team. The Golden Eagles are currently the only team standing in its NAIA Division I region.

Phillip Todd, sophomore tennis player, explained that getting matches in other conferences has made the booking process more difficult for the team.

“Since we’re not technically part of other regions, we’ve had to tag onto another conference to get some matches there,” Todd said.

“We’ve had to cut trips and matches this season because we haven’t had enough money to travel,” Kuykendall stated. “We’re looking for ways to raise funds for our trip later in March and money to go to regionals.”

The nationally-ranked Oklahoma Baptist team recently moved out of the NAIA division up into National Christian College Athletic Association. They too will be looking to prove themselves against opponents as they continue to strengthen their team in their new division.

“It’s a healthy pressure that makes me want to get better,” Kuykendall said. “I’m here representing JBU. It’s a growing program, and I want to do my best in order to bring the program to new heights, which will hopefully bring more awareness and more funds so that we can do more.”

The team will first take on Oklahoma Baptist at 10 a.m. and then will take on Southwestern at 1:30 p.m. Both matches will be played in Shawnee, Okla.

“We don’t have as much support as some of the other sports have, but as far as what we do have I’d say it’s encouraging to see so many people come out to matches,” Todd shared. “I’d like to see more!”

Kuykendall was upbeat about the matches.

“I know we’ll be traveling to Oklahoma as soon as we’re done with Southwestern, and I’m just hoping we can keep good energy, play hard and hopefully pull out a win,” he said.