CCU men's tennis

The CCU men's tennis team hopes to win a Sun Belt Conference title this year.

Last season, the Coastal Carolina men’s tennis team ended a two-year drought of not winning a set in the Sun Belt Conference tournament. The previous two seasons saw the Chanticleers end with 4-0 losses in the first round.
Not only did the Chants win a set in the first round of the 2019 Sun Belt tournament, they actually won their match and advanced for the first time as a member of the conference.
“We have to stay healthy and we have to have guys who are willing to step into some roles that they aren’t used to,” coach Chris Powers said. “I feel that with the excitement that this group had last season finally advancing in the conference tournament, they have the ability to go further and quite possibly go back to the NCAA Tournament.”
The Chanticleers saw their 2019 season end to eventual Sun Belt champion South Alabama. But despite losing senior Luiz Faria last year to graduation, the Chanticleers did not add any new players for the 2020 season. 
“Luiz is actually going to be a graduate assistant for us this year and that is extremely critical for us,” Powers said. “You have a guy that worked hard during his time here at Coastal and now coming back to help with the program. I love knowing that if I need to step away from practice, Luiz is there to run things and he’s going to do a great job.”
Coastal opened the 2020 season with a 7-0 loss to No. 7 Wake Forest. Despite the loss, the team saw some positive signs.
“There were certain things that you won’t necessarily see on the stat sheet,” junior Daiki Tanabe said. “We had several sets that could have gone either way and in the end Wake was able to get the upper hand. Despite the result, I was really proud of our team’s effort.”
“We have a great relationship with their program and it’s nice bonus to have that strong of an opponent on your schedule to open up your season with,” Powers added. “That is a huge motivating factor for our guys.”
Following the season opener at Wake, the Chanticleers bounced back with an emphatic 6-1 win over USC Upstate. 
“That outcome was what I had hoped it would be,” Powers said. “Upstate was a player short, so I hope that that isn’t a trend for us or our opponents this season. I felt that we could’ve done better on the doubles court.”
The Chanticleers have seven players on their roster and Powers said there will be a big battle for the person who will take the 6th court on match day.
“I love how I am not having to force guys out on the court,” he said. “I have guys coming out here early, staying later and coming to see me in an effort to improve their game. That’s what you want to see.”
The team gets to play host to tough Sun Belt programs and Powers said playing those home games will benefit the team come tournament time.
“Our complex here gives us a huge advantage,” he said. “The courts are slow, so you have to work a lot harder to win a point. And that gives an equalizer effect when we play the top Sun Belt schools. On paper, we are underdogs. But you put us on these courts here, that changes everything.”
The Chanticleers look to improve from that Sun Belt semifinals appearance. The team hopes a Sun Belt title is on the horizon.
“We hope that we can have another great season like we did last year and that a few matches that didn’t go out way last year go our way this year and we are able to bring back the title,” Talic said.
“Winning a ring with these guys would be special,” Tanabe added. “This a great group of seniors that I’ve gotten know during my time here. I would like to say that I’ll see them in the future, but for now I’d like to make their final year here special and winning a Sun Belt title would be a great way to do that.”
The Chanticleers travel to Orangeburg to take on South Carolina State on Friday before returning home to the Delan and Lynn Stevens Tennis Complex in Conway for a Sunday matchup against Presbyterian. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. 

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236


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