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Govs set for NCAA match with Wake Forest

APSU Athletics Communications

By Stefan Nolet

APSU Athletics Communications

ATHENS, Ga. – After Austin Peay State University’s women’s tennis team learned where it would be playing in the NCAA Tournament and who its opponent would be, head coach Ross Brown took to the airwaves on ‘Inside Austin Peay’ to speak on the team’s historic undefeated run and look ahead to the challenges of facing Wake Forest in the opening round.

During his time on air, Brown mentioned how he felt the trio of Claudia Yanes GarciaLidia Yanes Garcia and Helena Kuppigwould be a foundation on which the program could build something special when they entered the program.

And it came to fruition in dramatic fashion this year.

After a pair of 4-3 victories to start the spring, the Governors tore through the early portion of the schedule, giving up only four points in the 10 matches leading up to Ohio Valley Conference competition.

And they didn’t slow down, giving up only four points in eight OVC matches to earn the regular season OVC championship. Not content, they handled Southeast Missouri and UT Martin – both 4-0 decisions – to win the OVC Tournament, compile a 22-0 record and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.

A year after falling agonizingly short in the OVC Championship final, Brown was elated his team – and in particular the three seniors – get the opportunity to represent Austin Peay and the OVC on the national stage.

“Honestly, it’s a great feeling, and this is something that we have worked for,” Brown said. “We had the foundation and we thought we’d put it together. Last year it was very close, and this year it’s all come together. I’m just thankful for our seniors to experience this, and I’m thankful for all of our girls to experience this. You talk about a student-athlete experience, this is a good one for them.”

It will be no easy task though, as the Governors face off against the No. 22 Demon Deacons, who enter the tournament featuring two nationally-ranked doubles pairings and the No. 35 singles player, Emma Davis.

The showdown with Wake Forest will be the first meeting between the two programs, and it will be the first Atlantic Coast Conference opponent the Govs have faced since playing Georgia Tech in the NCAA Tournament in 2010.

But despite the rankings the Deacons boast, or the fact that they’ve been battle-tested in the ACC, having faced 15 nationally-ranked opponents, Brown emphasized to each player focusing only on what they can control.

“It’s about trying to play good tennis out there,” Brown said. “Under these circumstances, it’s about understanding what’s happening in terms of pressure and all the action that’s going on and understanding what your job is and being brave enough to go ahead and follow the things you know will give you the best shot to play good tennis.”

The Govs took the short bus ride to the shining palace to tennis that is the Magill Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Georgia, Friday morning, to get a feel for the courts and get in a final practice before competition starts. With overcast skies and a drop of rain or two, the Governors got their work in, preparing for the challenge tomorrow brings.

When the work was done, though, they had a little fun, encouraging the support staff who made the trip to return some shots sent over the net from Brown. As one might imagine, it didn’t go so well for those who hadn’t been receiving coaching from Brown and assistant coach Maria Sorbello all season, but it brought about some laughs from the whole team.

Fortunately, the support staff won’t be taking the courts tomorrow. Instead, led by the senior class of the Yanes Garcia sisters and Kuppig, the Governors will stand opposite the Demon Deacons and give everything they have to continuing the incredible run they’ve been on all season.

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