What a difference a year makes.
When Lafayette’s Jordan Daigle arrived at last year’s Cajun Tennis Classic, he had just completed a high-profile transfer to LSU from Virginia and felt the weight of great expectations.
Although his first year with the Tigers was eventually a success, Daigle didn’t play his best in the Classic.
Flash forward to this weekend, and Daigle looks quite comfortable on Cajun Courts. On Thursday, he marched past Southeastern Conference rival Grey Hamilton of Ole Miss (6-4, 6-2) and old friend Austin Siegel of Oklahoma (6-3, 6-3) to reach Friday’s Classic quarterfinals.
Waiting there will be Southern Cal’s Max devroome, a 7-6, 1-6, 6-1 second-round winner over Georgia’s Emil Reinburg.
“The biggest thing is that my mindset going into this year is a lot better,” said Daigle, who has also added 15 pounds of muscle. “Last year there were a lot of expectations, and I put a lot of pressure on myself.
“This year I’m more open-minded. I know I’ve put the work in this summer. I’m not worried so much about results. I know they’ll come.”
The No. 3-seeded Daigle never seemed in peril in his matches. Against Siegel, he cracked a pivotal ace to close out the eighth game of the first set before breaking serve to seal it. He had other key aces as well as hard service returns when he needed them most.
“When I play well, I serve well, attack and look to move forward,” Daigle said. “I hit some timely serves (Thursday).”
There was also a reason he anticipated Siegel’s moves.
“He’s a good friend of mine from juniors,” Daigle said. “We played a lot of doubles together and roomed together. We know each other’s games.”
“Jordan is very motivated to do well this year,” LSU assistant coach Danny Bryan said. “He settled in last year, and in the spring had a good year for us. He’s already proven he’s one of the best doubles players in the country (with Boris Arias). Now he wants to prove he’s among the best in singles.”
“(Playing) doubles helps my game a ton,” Daigle said. “With more matches, I get to work on things I can implement in singles. It gets me in a bigger groove.”
LSU’s No, 8 seed Justin Butsch also reached the quarterfinals, getting past Georgia’s Nick Wood 0-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the second round.
The Tigers and USC Trojans share top honors with two players each still alive in championship bracket singles. No. 1 seed Nick Crystal joins No. 5 devroome for Southern Cal.
Only one seed failed to advance as No. 7 Lucas Gerch of Oklahoma State fell to 6-foot-7 Georgia sophomore Paul Oosterbaan 6-3, 7-6 (1).
The other SEC hopeful in action is No. 2 Stefan Lindmark of Ole Miss, who had to fend off LSU’s Simon Freund in the second round, 6-4, 6-2.
Lindmark meets Oosterbaan, Butsch faces No. 4 Alex Ghilea of Oklahoma, and Crystal awaits No. 6 Arun Kadhe of Oklahoma State in other matchups.
Action resumes today with consolation singles at 9 a.m., championship quarterfinals at 11, and two rounds of doubles at 2 and 5 p.m.
The Classic concludes Sunday, and if he plays like he has so far, Daigle could still be in the hunt.