Texarkana Gazette

Internatio­nal players help Eagles’ tennis rise to top

- By Earl Gill

TEXARKANA, Texas — The Texas A&M University-Texarkana tennis team is one of the top National Associatio­n of Intercolle­giate Athletics programs in the country.

Jim Turley is entering his third season as the Eagles’ head coach.

Six internatio­nal players from four countries are represente­d on the Eagles roster, including Russia, Spain, Mexico, and India.

“Texas A&M-Texarkana is a great place to be,” Turley said. “They put an emphasis on academics first. Our kids are doing well in the classroom and on the court. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys and the university.

“We’re really excited about playing. All of my players are from overseas, so they’ve been lockeddown. They haven’t had a chance to play or practice a lot either. We’re excited about getting to play, but we just don’t know what’s going to happen, especially with the COVID situation or with other teams as well. We’re just getting back to a weird new normal.”

The Eagles will open their season Friday, traveling to Tyler, Texas, to face Jacksonvil­le College.

“Everybody is in the same boat,” Turley said. “A lot of teams we play have internatio­nal players and everyone was affected by COVID. Nobody has really had a chance to play in any tournament­s or had a chance to practice. There’s a even playing field entering this season.”

Before play stopped last season, the Eagles were receiving first place votes in the standings.

“We have four seniors and their goal is to make nationals,” Turley said.

“We made nationals two years ago and we would’ve made it last year, before the COVID restrictio­ns were put in place. We beat the top team in our region last year. We want to make the NAIA national in May; that’s our ultimate goal.

“We want to win a conference regional tournament, so we can go to nationals. I think we have a great chance of doing that this year. At the end of March last year, we were receiving first place votes for the Top 25. We have the same team, so we’re going to be looking pretty strong heading into the year.”

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