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Men’s Tennis: LSU’s Daigle back in spotlight at home

Bruce Brown, The Advertiser, September 26, 2014


Jordan Daigle(Photo: Advertiser File Photo)

Lafayette’s Jordan Daigle made a name for himself in Louisiana as one of the top junior tennis players in the country, then signed with No. 1 Virginia to take the next step in his career.

But Daigle opted to come home after one year with the Cavaliers, and now provides a talent boost for coach Jeff Brown’s LSU Tigers as well as local flavor for the Sept. 18-21 Cajun Tennis Classic at UL’s Cajun Courts.

It’s a spotlight that doesn’t seem to faze him.

"I’m fine with that," Daigle said. "It’s going to be a very competitive tournament. Over half of the players (entered) are going to be ranked players. It’s much better to compete in the fall than just practice.

"My parents (Lafayette’s Robert and LeAnne Daigle) only got to see me play once or twice when I was at Virginia, and I’ve got friends and relatives who haven’t seen me play in five years. It will be good to be back in Lafayette."

Daigle showed he belonged on the court with elite college players, posting a 19-5 singles record as a freshman at Virginia, playing mainly the No. 6 spot in the lineup. But his focus shifted after a year of competition.

"Originally," he said, "my big priority was to win a national championship and to get a ring (Virginia was ranked No. 1 and finished 27-3). But after we lost in the (NCAA) semifinals, my priorities changed.

"I wanted to go back home and help a program turn the corner. I wanted to pick a solid program with a chance to play higher in the lineup. I considered Southern Cal, which won the NCAA. I took a recruiting trip there and liked the coach and the team. I looked at Georgia. I have a lot of friends on the team and they have a great coach.

"I decided on LSU a little bit late. I didn’t want people to think I was homesick. It was an opportunity to play high in the lineup, and to help turn a program in the right direction, instead of a USC or Virginia, which are already there.

"I wanted to be part of something good."

The Lafayette product has grown since most fans last saw him on the court, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 180 – 20 pounds heavier than in his junior days when he ascended to No. 4 in the country..

"I’ve gotten bigger and stronger over the last year and a half," Daigle said. "It shows in the physicality of my game. Gaining the weight, I had to experiment with my mobility on the court. I had to find the right balance."

While growing stronger, Daigle found his game suited to college success, ranking No. 43 in the country as a freshmen.

"I was not sure what to expect," he said. "I was a Top 10 recruit who hoped to have success in the fall, in individual matches, to test the waters. Then at the ITA All-American Tournament, I won five matches (just) four weeks into my freshman year – some of them by 1, 0.

"That helped to give me confidence."

Daigle is expected back in the ITA All-American Oct. 2-6, but first he has some on-court business to conduct back at home.

Tigers return starters

LSU coach Jeff Brown enters his 18th year at the helm with a record of 268-168, including back-to-back SEC titles and NCAA Final Fours in 1998 and 1999.

Six starters return from the Tigers’ 2014 team that finished 46th nationally. Players looking to join Daigle in action at the Cajun Classic include:

Senior Chris Simpson, an All-SEC singles and doubles performer from England who was ranked as high as No. 29 last year and who was a 2013 NCAA singles participant;

Junior Tam Trinh from Dallas, a former national 16-under doubles champ and the No. 5 juniors talent in Texas who teamed with Eric Perez in doubles to spark an upset of No. 36 South Carolina last year;

Perez, a sophomore, is the son of LSU legend Fernando Perez and a standout doubles player aiming for a spot in singles.

Cajun Tennis Classic

The Cajun Tennis Classic will be staged at UL’s Cajun Courts from Sept. 18-21, featuring members of UL’s 2014 NCAA Tournament squad facing a select group of players from LSU, Texas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest and TCU.