XU's Rush, Nuggets will face challenging 2012 schedule
NEW ORLEANS — The Xavier University of Louisiana tennis teams will get a heavy concentration of ranked NAIA opponents and NCAA Division I opponents in 2012.
Alan Green, in his ninth season as coach of the Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets, announced Tuesday the spring portion of the schedules.
Approximately 65 percent of both teams' schedules will consist of opponents which were ranked in the final 2011 NAIA coaches top 25 poll or are NCAA D-I members. Xavier competes in the NAIA.
Competition will begin this weekend when the XU men visit Tulane at 2 p.m. Saturday. XU's women will visit Tulane at 9 a.m. Sunday. The first home duals will be Feb. 1 when Xavier's men and women play the University of New Orleans at the City Park/Pepsi Tennis Center, which opened 10 months ago. That facility will play host to most of Xavier's home matches this season.
Ranked 2011 NAIA teams on the schedules of the Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets include top-10 programs Auburn Montgomery — whose women won the national championship this past season — Point Loma Nazarene and Vanguard. NCAA Division I opponents will include the men and women of Nicholls State and the women of Louisiana Tech and South Alabama.
"This will be our toughest men's and women's schedules ever," Green said. "I'm not looking to play a lot of cream puffs. We want to challenge ourselves with difficult competition and use those challenges to become better and stronger."
For the second straight year the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference will not crown tennis champions — only Xavier, Tougaloo and Fisk sponsor the sport — but both XU teams will compete in an NAIA unaffiliated group tournament in the Atlanta area in late April for automatic bids to the NAIA National Championships.
Xavier's men will attempt earn a fourth consecutive berth at the NAIA nationals, and the women will attempt to qualify for the sixth time in eight seasons. The Gold Nuggets missed qualifying last year after reaching the previous three seasons.
The first NAIA team rankings of the season will be announced next Wednesday.