Tennis Kicks Off League Championship This Weekend

Tennis Kicks Off League Championship This Weekend

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Setting The Scene: The Butler men's and women's tennis teams open up the Horizon League Championship this weekend at North Central High School in Indianapolis. The men begin their run in the tournament in the quarterfinals as the No. 3 seed and will take on No. 6 seed Valparaiso on Friday (April 24) beginning at 1:00 p.m. The women, meanwhile, enter the competition as the No. 2 seed and will get a two-match bye to the semifinals on Saturday (April 25) at 2:00 p.m.

How We Got Here: The Butler women's team earned its third-straight No. 2 seed in the Horizon League Championship by finishing the conference slate with a 7-1 record. Their only loss came at the hands of top-seeded UIC on April 4. The men's squad finished third in the standings with a 5-2 mark, falling to both No. 1 Cleveland State and No. 2 UIC earlier in the season. It is the second consecutive season the Bulldogs have been the No. 3 seed.

A History Lesson: The men's team had been the class of the league up until last season, winning six-straight Horizon League titles from 2002 to 2007 before finishing third in 2008. The women's team, meanwhile, has advanced to the league championship match in each of the last three seasons, falling to UIC all three times - including 4-3 defeats in the past two bouts.

A First Time For Everything: The men's squad will need to rewrite history if they are to win their league-best 10th tournament title. Since tournament play began in 1996, the Bulldogs have only won the championship when playing as the No. 1 seed.

Last Season In The Tournament: The Butler women's team entered the 2008 tournament as the No. 2 seed and defeated Detroit in the semifinals, 4-0, before falling to top-seeded UIC in hard-fought fashion, 4-3, in the championship bout. The men, meanwhile, began as the No. 3 seed and ousted No. 6 Valparaiso, 4-0, in the quarterfinals before dropping a 4-0 match to No. 2 UIC in the semis. The Bulldogs rebounded in the third-place match, sweeping past Green Bay, 4-0 for third.

Weekly Dominance: The Horizon League is quite aware of the strong play by the Bulldogs this season. Butler has collected a total of six Horizon League Player of the Week awards, including five by the women's team. Sophomore Natali Jaimes picked up a pair of recognitions during the fall, while sophomore Gabriella Bobrowski, junior Becky Jenkins and freshman Cam Thompson have each earned one this spring. Junior Ben Raynauld scored the lone award for the men's team this season.

Head Coach Jason Suscha: Jason Suscha, in his 12th season as the head coach of the Butler men's tennis team and 10th year at the helm of the women's squad, continues to reign supreme in the world of Horizon League tennis. The five-time Horizon League Men's Tennis Coach of the Year boasts a 179-117 overall record at Butler, including an astounding 74-5 mark against conference foes. Suscha has also consistently positioned the Butler women's squad near the top of the Horizon League. Under his guidance, the Bulldogs have combined for a 125-111 record - including a dominant 73-22 mark in league play - and have advanced to the tournament championship match in eight of his nine years.

Where We Go From Here: A win by the men's team will move them on to the semifinals where they will take on either No. 2 UIC or No. 7 Detroit on Saturday (April 25) at 11:30 a.m. The women need only to defeat their opponent in the semifinals to move on to the championship round for the fourth-straight year. Both title matches kick off on Sunday (April 26) at 10:30 a.m.