PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast plays the biggest event on its fall tennis schedule this week, traveling to Meridian for the ITA Regional Championships.
There will be singles and doubles brackets for men and women, and MGCCC has three of the four top seeds.
"It's a barometer for how the team looks," Gulf Coast coach Gary Bourgeois said. "We get a feel for everybody because all the top players will be there. The bullets are live. We've been beating each other up for the past few weeks. This is a big statement in the fall for what's going to happen in the spring."
Bianca Buie (So., Baia Mare, Romania/Gheorghe Sincai National High School) is the No. 1 seed in women's singles, and she'll team with Russian freshman Margarita Lopareva as the top-seeded doubles team.
"After Bianca and Margarita, we've got two really talented freshmen that came in," Bourgeois said. "We've got Tierney Holmes from Greenwood, who's really looking good in singles and doubles, and also Megan Bankston from Gulfport, who's really a solid player."
Jenna Lyons (So., Pascagoula/Pascagoula), who won the No. 2 doubles state championship, is also back.
Travis Bell (So., Jackson/Calloway), the defending MACJC No. 1 singles champ, has the top seed in the men's singles draw. He'll team with big-serving Australian freshman Austin Vos as the fourth-seeded team in doubles.
"We've got a lot of young players who will have to grow up quick in this match," Bourgeois said. "We've got Evan Chubb, who was three-time state champion from St. Patrick. We've got John Teague Murphy from Mobile, who did really well for us and made some big strides over the summer, playing No. 3."
The winners advance to the Oracle Cup, formerly known as the Small College Championships. Gulf Coast has sent players there the last five years.
There are also bigger picture matters to pay attention to.
"It shows me right away where we need to work," Bourgeois said. "It gives a lot of opportunities to see the young players, for them to get the sense of the ball being faster. They've got to be smarter. Everything we work on in the classroom and on the court, this is the test."
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCAthletics on Twitter and BulldogLIVE on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.