ABILENE, Texas -- Hardin-Simmons' men's tennis team has one thing on its mind as it heads to Tyler for the 2012 American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament -- get back on top of the ladder.
The Cowboys have won more league titles than anyone with seven, but Texas-Tyler has won the last four including last year in the ASC final, 5-2, against the Cowboys. HSU returns five of the seven players that played in the ASC Championship a year ago.
HSU's lineup features three sophomores and four seniors. The Cowboys went 10-6 on the year and are 9-3 against Division III teams this season. HSU earned a first-round bye as champions of the ASC West.
"We have a very talented and experienced team," said head coach Shane Williford. "We are taking it one match at a time because every match is tough. I think we have the ability to go out there and win the tournament. Our guys have worked extremely hard and they are focused."
Sophomore Erich Bein leads the Cowboys at No. 1 singles. He went 6-0 in conference and is 11-4 on the season. Senior Sean Strehlow is 8-7 on the year at No. 2 singles and was 5-1 in ASC play. Senior Cullen Dees is 7-8 on the year at No. 3 singles and was also 5-1 in league play.
Sophomore Michael McCullough is 12-4 on the year and went 11-4 at No. 4 singles, including 6-0 in conference play. Senior Gavin Ybarra went 8-8 at No. 5 singles. Sophomore Steven Stanley was 8-5 at No. 6 singles.
The Cowboys have received solid doubles play all year long. Bein and Strehlow have teamed to go 11-5 on the year at No. 1. McCullough and senior Tony Record are 10-6 at No. 2 doubles and Stanley and Ybarra are 8-6 at No. 3 doubles.
HSU will receive a first round bye and will play the winner of Friday's match between Mississippi College and McMurry at 9:30 at the Tyler Tennis and Swim Club. If the Cowboys win, they will play in the final at the Summers Tennis Center at UT-Tyler on Sunday at 1 p.m for the ASC Championship.
Live statistics will be available throughout the event as well as selected live video streaming and video highlights. The links can be found on the conference's website, www.ASCsports.org, and the official championships website, www.uttylerpatriots.com.
2012 AMERICAN SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE
April 27-29 / Summers Tennis Center & Tyler Tennis and Swim Club / Tyler, Texas
East Division: #1 Texas-Tyler (15-5, 6-0 ASC), #2 Mississippi College (10-3, 5-1 ASC), #3 Texas-Dallas (10-3, 4-2 ASC)
West Division: #1 Hardin-Simmons (10-6, 6-0 ASC), #2 Mary Hardin-Baylor (9-6, 5-1 ASC), #3 McMurry (6-10, 3-3 ASC)
Friday, April 27
Match 1: Mississippi College (E2) vs. McMurry (W3), 9:30 a.m., TTSC
Match 2: Mary Hardin-Baylor (W2) vs. Texas-Dallas (E3), 9:30 a.m., Summers
Saturday, April 28
Match 3: Hardin-Simmons (W1) vs. Winner of Match 1 [MC/McM], 9:30 a.m., TTSC
Match 4: Texas-Tyler (E1) vs. Winner of Match 2 [UMHB/UTD], 9:30 a.m., Summers
Sunday, April 29
Match 5: Winner of Match 3 vs. Winner of Match 4, 1 p.m., Summers
ALL-TIME ASC TENNIS CHAMPIONS
Year ASC Champion
1997 Howard Payne
2000 Mississippi College
2001 Mississippi College