The US Collegiate is making a big turn this month. Six weeks in, we are seeing many of our Aussie’s playing their first conference matches. For those that are not as familiar, each college is a member of a particular conference which has around 10-12 teams.
The athletes we are following are members of the strongest conferences which include: Amy Stevens (Vanderbilt, South Eastern Conference), Alex Bulte (Florida State, Atlantic Coast Conference) and Josh Charlton (Oregon, Pac-12). The other two conferences; Big-10 and Big-12 all collectively make up the “Power Five” which are the five toughest conferences in college sports.
Amy Stevens, a Sophomore (2nd Year) at Vanderbilt who was a guest on the First Serve live radio show a couple of weeks ago, gave us an insight into their season so far.
The Commodores won through qualifying rounds at the ITA Winter Indoors against Furman and NC State which landed them in the top 10, and the Women’s team were ecstatic to make it through. “It was incredible”, said Stevens. “We knew it was going to be a fight, our coaches really believed in us and we had that fight and it was a thrilling weekend”.
Last weekend, the Commodores traveled across the country where they headed west to Seattle, Washington playing in the final rounds of the ITA Winter Indoor Championships.
Stevens went down in a tight battle going down against Iowa State’s Chie Kezuka, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3). Vanderbilt went on to play matches against host, Washington and Stanford going down in a close 4-3 to both schools. The Commodores will now have 13 of 15 matches in the South-Eastern Conference (SEC) where they face The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), Mississippi State and Tennessee on March 3, 5 and 10 respectively. “We have a very big conference to say the least”, said Stevens. “Preparing physically and mentally is a really big focus”.
South Carolina’s Casey Hoole got his team’s first ‘clinching’ match against Georgia Tech with a 4-1 win. The term ‘clinch’ is used in college tennis which means that it is the match that seals the team to victory to where there is no mathematical chance of the other team winning.
The Gamecocks then went on to defeat Wake Forest in Winston Salem, North Carolina; their toughest ranked opponent (#9) on paper coming out with a 5-2 victory.
“Going to Wake today, a few of our guys were trying to make some things right that they didn’t do right against Georgia Tech”, said Hoole. “Going against Wake it’s always going to be tough, they’re a top 10 team. To take care of them and beat them 5-2 on the road, we were super happy with it”. The Gamecocks are now 8-0 for the season and will be traveling to Chicago, Illinois this weekend where they will play in the final rounds of the ITA Winter Indoor National Championships.
South Carolina has yet to win a national title in their program history. “Historically we maybe haven’t achieved like some of the other programs have but since Josh Goffi, our coach, has been here we’ve continued to improve every year, said Hoole. “As a group we really believe we can win a national title and really set some records for our program which would be incredible.”
We also sat down this week with Jarryd Chaplin, the Assistant Women’s Coach at the University of Tennessee who is from Sydney and played all four years as a Volunteer from 2011-14.
Chaplin discussed the impact that current Australian’s; Catherine Aulia and Pat Harper have had on the program. “I think like almost all of our Australians, they’ve had a tremendous impact, obviously both of their on-court proess is fantastic, said Chaplin. “Pat’s been part of a national championship doubles team; we see Cat as being a really integral part of our future of the program over the next few years”. Our interview with Jarryd Chaplin was aired on our most recent live radio show on Monday where we delve into the Australian impact that our players have had at Tennessee. LISTEN HERE
That’s a wrap for our Aussie’s in the states for this week. Follow us on your preferred social media platform where we give you college results, short interviews, highlights and much more.
The first episode of Season 2 of our monthly college podcast, Play USA was released last week featuring Florida State’s Alex Bulte LISTEN HERE and we look forward to releasing our second episode where we chat to Sydney’s Catherine Aulia who is in her Freshman Year at the University of Tennessee.