Feb. 5, 1997
Feature On Purdue's Gordon, James And Myers
by Steve Timmer
Three years ago, the Purdue men's tennis team was at the bottom of
the Big Ten with little or no respect in the sport of men's tennis.
Today, they are preparing to send three of their most respected
players to Dallas to compete in the Rolex National Intercollegiate
Indoor Tennis Championships.
Head coach Tim Madden, after being hired in 1994 to revive the men's
squad, brought in three very talented recruits following his first
year. Those three recruits, now sophomores, are slowly but surely
building a name for themselves and the program that they represent.
"I consider becoming a better team in tennis a process, and when I
got here Purdue hadn't been on the national scene in about 10 years,"
Madden said. "I was lucky enough to get some very good recruits and
they are performing well. Those players are the ones leading the team
to the national level."
Those three recruits, in their second season with Madden, have
brought with them new life to Purdue's program. The trio of sophomore
standouts, Jamie Gordon, Cris James and Derek Myers have come from
different backgrounds on the road to establishing themselves, and
their team as a forced to be reckoned with.
Gordon, a native of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, found himself ranked
in the top five nationally and 348th in the world in the ITF computer
rankings before attending Purdue. Gordon, preparing to enter the ITA
National Indoors for the first time, has proven himself as a hard
worker who is dedicated to improving his overall game. Entering his
second year at Purdue, Gordon has won the Region IV title and is
currently ranked as the No. 1 singles player in the region and 44th
nationally. But, the one thing that Gordon strived to be a part of
the most last season, he did not get. The abilities of his fellow
freshman teammates James and Myers, landed them a trip to several
national tournaments where they represented Purdue as freshmen.
Gordon took it upon himself to work diligently in the summer to
improve his game, minimize his weaknesses and better establish his
abilities going into his sophomore season. "Jamie has been on a
mission," Madden commented. "I think it was that he was envious of
(Cris and Derek's) opportunities, and he made it his goal to be with
them at national tournaments."
The hard work and dedication has paid off, as Gordon now has
qualified for the ITA National Indoors. "I knew that I belonged at the
national tournaments, I just needed to prove it," Gordon said. "Now I
have to show that this wasn't a fluke and solidify myself as a
national caliber player."
The two other sophomores, Cris James and Derek Myers, have also
contributed to the Boiler tennis program just as Gordon has. Unlike
Gordon though, the team of James and Myers have combined their
individual abilities together in doubles play. The two have come to
establish themselves as a formidable duo.
Among their list of accomplishments includes an overall national
ranking of 15th in doubles, the 1995 Region IV title, and first place
at the Milwaukee Tennis Classic which consisted of several very
impressive wins over some of the NCAA's top tennis duos. The ITA
National Indoors will prove to be a tougher test though, as tournament
entries are by invitation-only, and the players are the finest
collegiate players in the nation. It is the third in a four-part,
invitation-only series referred to as the "Grand Slam" of collegiate
tennis, ending with the NCAA Championships in May.
"We are excited to go to any of the national tournaments," James
said. "The first few were a learning experience. Now, one of our
goals is to win one of the ITA Grand Slam tournaments."
"Consistency is the key for us," added Myers. "On any given day we
can beat anyone in the country. As we develop consistence we will
beat those teams more and more. This is a big deal to play in one of
these tournaments, and I think we have a chance to really win if
things go our way."
Their success has helped to improve Purdue's level of competition and
to bring a degree of respect from the opponents that they face. The
Boilermakers are ranked 55th in the country and have started the
season off with a 4-3 win against Miami of Ohio.
"The combination of these three talented players and their
dedication to improving their games has impressed Madden. "All three
of them take it upon themselves to find the best competition. Purdue
didn't go as a team to the Milwaukee Classic, but these three guys
took time out of their vacation to go and compete against the best
competition that they could," Madden said.
Gordon, James and Myers will put their reputations on line in Dallas
Thursday, with competition lasting through Sunday.