Last year’s revival of the Cajun Tennis Classic was a trial run for Louisiana-Lafayette tennis supporters.
Now, Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Jeffrey is bringing out the big guns for what he envisions as a late-September “Louisiana Tennis Week.”
The spotlight of the Sept. 22-27 activities is the return of the Cajun Classic, which will bring four of the nation’s top eight collegiate teams to Cajun Courts for high-level singles and doubles competition.
“This is a much, much stronger field than last year, and last year’s field was pretty good,” Jeffrey said Wednesday at a kickoff announcement for the event. “With the teams coming in and the events and support we have, this is the No. 1 college tournament in Louisiana.”
The field includes defending NCAA runner-up and No. 2-ranked Oklahoma, fourth-ranked TCU, a seventh-ranked Southern Cal team that has won four national titles in seven years and No. 8-ranked Georgia. No. 30-ranked LSU is also in the field.
Georgia’s Wayne Montgomery won last year’s singles crown on his way to national Freshman of the Year honor.
“We’re excited to be coming back after the resumption last year,” said Bulldogs coach Manny Diaz, who spoke via teleconference Wednesday. “This is one of the oldest and most respected events out there.”
The Cajun Classic was first staged in 1977 by then-UL-Lafayette coach Jerry Simmons, and during an impressive 10-year run, when it was known as the Rolex Classic it attracted many of the nation’s top teams and individuals. Simmons, who later served 15 seasons as LSU’s tennis coach on the way to Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame honors, returns as tournament director.
“Jerry was a visionary,” said Jeffrey, who played many matches against Simmons-coached teams while at Mississippi State. “He was the first to create a college tournament that was corporate sponsored. ESPN’s first-ever broadcast of college tennis was there at Cajun Courts for the 1979 tournament.
“Our success over the past several years can be traced all the way back to that tournament.”
Joining the four top-ranked teams in the field are 13th-ranked Wake Forest, No. 29-ranked Oklahoma State and the Ragin’ Cajuns. Also included in the event is a youth clinic on Tuesday, Sept. 22, headed up by Lafayette native Chanda Rubin.