Cougars take aim at SoCon titles

College of Charleston women’s tennis coach Angelo Anastopoulo will be trying to direct his team to its fourth straight Southern Conference tournament title. Photo by Paul Zoeller/CofC Athletics Communications

The College of Charleston men’s and women’s tennis programs have been a model for success in the Southern Conference.

The women’s team has posted a 29-1 regular season record, won two regular season titles and is trying to qualify for its fourth straight NCAA tournament during the Southern Conference tennis tournament that begins today at the College of Charleston and The Citadel.

The men’s tennis team has gone 28-2 during that same period and has finished first or tied for first during the regular season.

The most noticeable difference is that the men’s tennis team has not been able to win the conference tournament and gain the automatic NCAA bid since 2003.

Fifth-year men’s coach Jay Bruner said his team’s goal is the title, but the Cougars aren’t feeling any added pressure this week.

“The last three years have been fun,” said Bruner, who this week was named the Southern Conference coach of the year for the second time in three seasons. “I’ve been telling them it’s kind of like breaking serve. They’ve given themselves the opportunity.”

The College of Charleston men’s team has three seniors, including No. 1 singles player Mickael Trintignac of France who this year made first-team All-Southern Conference for the second time. Trintignac teamed with junior Kyle Parker to make first-team all-SoCon in doubles. The other seniors are Tom Delme of Belgium and Chris Toussaint of Charlotte.

The women’s team, whose only loss in the regular season this year was 5-2 at No. 1 seed UNC Greensboro, hopes to continue its streak of tournament success.

The Cougars have beaten Furman three straight years to win the tournament, including a 4-3 win last year.

“We play the winner of Elon-Wofford (at The Citadel) and either one of those teams will be a great challenge,” said Angelo Anastopoulo, who was the league’s coach or co-coach of the year in 2010 and 2011. “If we can get back to our home court, we’ll go from there.”

Admission is free and Anastopoulo, who also is director of tennis for the school, said he is hoping for a good turnout.

“I think that the people who went to the Family Circle Cup would really enjoy college tennis a lot more,” he said. “There’s a lot more cheering and excitement, seeing college kids, true student-athletes, competing and dealing with the emotions as a team. It’s exciting to see.”