Oct. 23, 1997

Boilers Face Challenge in The Swamp

You have to play the best to be the best." That is the philosophy of Tim Madden, head coach of the Purdue men's tennis team. Maddenis philosophy will be tested this weekend when he takes his Boilermakers to the Gator Invitational, hosted by the University of Florida, Oct. 24-26.

In addition to Purdue and Florida, both Georgia Tech and Auburn will be participating in this three-day affair. The Gators own one of the top tennis programs in the country. Coming off a season in which they advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Championship tournament, winning 12 of their last 17 matches, the Gators began the 1997 fall season ranked 10th in the I.T.A./Rolex poll. They were the NCAA Region II champions last spring and posted a 17-9 record.

Also providing stiff competition will be SEC member Auburn. Auburn enters the Gator Invitational ranked just below Florida in the preseason poll at 14th. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, is ranked 43rd in the nation. Purdue earned a ranking of 50th after a strong 1997 campaign in which the Boilers went18-7 and received the first invitation to an NCAA Championship event since the program began in 1925.

"Playing this caliber of teams is very important for our program," Madden says. "In order to for us to keep moving up in the rankings, we need to challenge ourselves with the highest level of competition we can find. Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech are all very good teams and we should learn a lot just by playing against them."

Not that Purdue is not up to the challenge. The Boilermakers have had a number of successes already this fall. Junior Jamie Gordon and freshman Jason Marshall both won titles in the Boilermaker Tennis Classic held Oct. 18-19 in West Lafayette. Gordon finished as runner-up in the A Flight of the Notre Dame Tom Fallon Invitational Sept. 28. Senior Steve Brizendine has won four matches in two tournaments this fall, while sophomore Evan Hays has produced three victories in two tournaments. In addition, the doubles team of juniors Cris James and Derek Myers has been playing against the best competition in the country, competing in two of collegiate tennisis four grand slam events.

The Gator Invitational has a format similar to a dual match, where each team will play the three others. Purdue plays Auburn Oct. 24, Florida Oct. 25, and Georgia Tech Oct. 26. Unlike a dual match, however, only individual results will count.