VSU’s men and women’s tennis teams both finished three conference matches this past weekend and finished 5-1.
VSU men didn’t lose a single point against Lambuth, Alabama-Huntsville and North Alabama, while the women picked up their first two wins of the season.
These victories are coming at a good time against conference rivals with a 8-1 win over Alabama-Huntsville and 5-0 victory at Lambuth. North Alabama cooled off the Blazers beating VSU women, 7-2.
VSU Hall of Fame Coach John Hanson, who manages both the women and men’s team, isn’t surprised in the slightest of the girls’ slow start thus far.
“You play six, so we graduated the entire starting team,” Hanson said.
As the men’s team competes to achieve their goal of playing in the national championship at the end of this season like last year, the women’s team will use this as a “rebuilding” one.
Michelle Fisher, one of Hanson’s top recruits, had to leave the team for the rest of the semester due to family reasons.
The Lady Blazers will undoubtedly get better once Fisher and other recruit Juliana Boehn return to the team.
Hanson must now take a young team with plenty of freshman and recreate them so they’ll be able to maintain the reputation of dominance his teams normally carry.
This process has begun in a good direction with successful recruiting and the abundance of potential that the girls possess.
Jessica Tuggle, who is playing her first season as a Blazer, has been adjusting to the strong competition she now plays against week after week.
“I knew it was going to be tougher,” Jessica said. “I knew it would be a lot different than high school tennis.”
Jessica, who is the daughter of former NFL star and college football hall of famer Jessie “The Hammer” Tuggle, plans to bring the same competitive nature that her father once brought to Valdosta.
In the meantime, she is doing all she can to make the transition from high school to college as smooth as possible on the court and off.
The freshman psychology major attended Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, Ga. She was named as one of the top athletes in the state last year.
Before committing to VSU, Tuggle considered taking her talents to Troy University or UNC Chapel Hill for track and field.
Although her father has tremendous respect here at VSU, she says he was the last person to have any influence on her decision.
“He had nothing to do with my choice,” Jessica said. “It was all about tennis, and the campus is really nice.”
Justin Tuggle, Jessica’s big brother, plays quarterback for Kansas State and will enter the draft in a few years in hope of becoming a professional in the footsteps of his father.
Jessica has been playing tennis since she was eight years old and plans to finish her prosperous career as a Blazer.
“I definitely do not want to be a professional tennis player,” Jessica said. “The lifestyle is great but that’s just not my calling.”
Hanson has mentored numerous exceptional athletes for many years and is excited to be able to add Jessica to that long list.
“You can see the potential she has to become a good tennis player,” Hanson said. “She just needs some experience out there on the court.”
Jessica, who is also an RA, tightens up her game with the influential help of Hanson.
“She has a lot of tools that we have to make sure we put them in the right place,” Hanson said.
VSU travels to Pensacola, Fla., for matches where the women’s team will take on Cameron Friday. The men’s team will match up against Ouachita Baptist Saturday and the women play again, facing Central Oklahoma.