LaGrange College tennis team ready for tourney
Published 10:13 pm Thursday, April 12, 2018
By kevin eckleberry
LaGrange College’s men’s team earned a spot in the six-team USA South tournament with a stellar regular season, and it will try to keep its season alive with a win over Methodist today at McCluskey Tennis Center.
The Panthers are 13-7, and they have set a record for the most wins in the history of the program.
The Panthers went 7-3 against USA South foes in the regular season, and that’s the first time they ever had a winning season in conference play.
LaGrange College is the number three seed from the West division, and its opponent today at 2 p.m. will be Methodist, the number two seed from the East.
The winner between LaGrange College and Methodist will play Covenant on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a spot in Sunday’s championship match on the line.
Today’s other first-round matchup pits Piedmont and Averett against each other, and the winner of that match will play North Carolina Wesleyan on Saturday.
The Panthers are led by a trio of players who earned a spot on the all-USA South team.
Among that group is freshman Alan Valdez, who grew up playing tennis at McCluskey Tennis Center along with his brother, Carlos Valdez.
Joining Valdez on the all-conference first team is sophomore Will Thompson, and senior Mitchell Corley was an honorable-mention selection.
Valdez has had a terrific freshman season, going 12-3 at number three singles, and he also plays number one doubles with Corley.
In USA South matches, Valdez has a 7-1 singles record, and he secured his team’s lone win in an 8-1 loss to Oglethorpe on Tuesday.
Thompson has a 9-5 record at number two singles, and he and Caleb Eddie are 7-3 at number two doubles.
Corley has spent most of the season playing number one singles and number one doubles.
Another standout for the Panthers is Carlos Valdez, who like his brother has made a smooth transition to the college game.
Carlos Valdez is 13-4 in singles, and he won in singles and doubles against Covenant last week.
Another key player for the Panthers is John Mitchell Benton, who is half of a dominant doubles team along with Trevor McLemore.
2 p.m. – Piedmont (No. 2 West) vs. Averett (No. 3 East)
2 p.m. – LaGrange College (No. 3 West) vs. Methodist (No. 2 East)