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Friday, May 6, 2011

Mustangs tennis team is headed back to Florida

SILVER CITY For the second straight year, the Western New Mexico University men s tennis team is headed back to Florida to participate in the Division II National Championships. The Mustangs are the top team from the Central Region, and they are pitted up against West Virginia Westland, who was runner-up in the Atlantic Region. Action will begin May 11 and run through the 14th.
It was the guys No. 1 goal to get back to the finals, head coach Erik Burton said. In fact our captain stated that after our regional win. But, my main goal is to win a few rounds and maybe even get into the Final Four.
Burton s main concern is the elevation and weather. The Mustangs will travel from near 6,100 feet in elevation to about 100 feet. The humidity will also be a big factor.
The ball doesn t bounce and move as fast in Florida, Burton said. We are going to have to get used to that kind of play quickly. We will have a couple of practices over there and we hope we can make the necessary adjustments right away.
Western has been focusing on fundamentals in practice. Those sessions have been short because of the players trying to finish up finals. Burton added that his squad is in great shape, and they are excited to be able to get an opportunity to go back and compete again.
Yair Banuelos and Henning Thrien are the captains of the squad. Thrien was the RMAC Academic Player of the Year, and Banuelos leadership on the court has helped the team the past couple of years. It s almost unbelievable that this duo hasn t lost a set to a regional team this year, Burton said. To get Thrien as Academic Player of the Year and Banuelos as runner-up is amazing. It s a testament to their dedication and their hard work. They are truly unbelievable.
Last year, the Mustangs lost in the first round, 5-1, to Northwood in the finals. Burton said they are concentration on their doubles game this year to help boost them past the first round.
In Division II, a doubles sweep can give you three points right off the bat, Burton said. If that happens or if we win two out of three, our singles matches normally go pretty well for us.
With Emmanuel Mensah and Johan Weich ranked 34 in the nation in doubles, Burton is counting on them two to set the pace in the action.
We are wrapping up finals here, and getting ready to make the long trip to Florida, Burton said. We hope to go further than we did last year, and I think we have the talent to do that.

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