The University of Alberta Golden Bears tennis team is looking for their second-straight national title, while the Pandas aim for their second championship in four seasons, this weekend at the 2017 Canadian University Tennis Championship. The Bears will begin their title quest against McGill in the semifinal in Montreal, while the Pandas play the Dalhousie Tigers in Toronto. The full tournament draw can be found here.
The UAlberta tennis program has steadily built themselves a dynasty in Western Canada, capturing 11-straight Western University Championships. Over the past two seasons, the Bears and Pandas have also combined for a 33-2 overall match record. The Bears only loss came earlier this season, as they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Simon Fraser University Clan. The Pandas, who haven’t lost a match this season, suffering their last loss in the 2016 national semifinal, eventually capturing the bronze medal.
Both teams return virtually an identical roster from last season, with both squads choked full of veteran talent.
“There shouldn’t be any surprises in Montreal, as all of our players have previous national experience and will be familiar with the level of competition they will be up against.” said head coach Russ Sluchinski. “The team has worked hard all year in preparation for this event and I feel they have an excellent chance to repeat as National Champions. Team MVP Ryan Townsend, as well as third-years Mark Hamill and Jeff James will lead our team through this tournament.”
The undefeated Pandas are in a similar spot, as they return five members of last year’s bronze medal winning team. Four-time team MVP Kristina Sanjevic, as well as President’s Trophy recipient Michaela Sherven and third-year Runjia Gan all have had numerous years of nationals experience, and will be counted on to lead the Pandas in Toronto.
“As a team the Pandas have prepared harder for this competition than in any previous year.” continued Sluchinski. “The players have made a lot of sacrifices to train on a regular basis through the spring and summer, and as a result the team is going into the Nationals very confident that they will be ready to play and have an excellent chance of being successful”.
Live radio broadcasts of the 2017 University Tennis Championships will be available at http://radiotennis.com/listen-live/.