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Tennis: Cajun Tennis Classic to bring power teams to Lafayette

Chad Washington, The Advertiser, July 30, 2014


Former UL and LSU men’s tennis coach Jerry Simmons announces the return of the Cajun Tennis Classic at City Club in River Ranch on Tuesday.(Photo: Chad Washington, The Advertiser)

In the late 1970’s, then-UL men’s tennis coach Jerry Simmons created a fall tennis tournament that brought the top college teams in the nation to Lafayette.

Today, Simmons has brought that tournament back to life.

Simmons announced that the Cajun Tennis Classic will return for the first time to Lafayette since 1984 this September at the UL Tennis Courts. And it will bring traditional powers to UL in No. 8 Texas and No. 9 Georgia. The announcement was held at City Club at River Ranch on Tuesday afternoon.

The event on Sept. 16-21 has the support of a handful of local businesses, and Simmons – an ITA Hall of Fame inductee – had a very easy time convincing coaches across the country to participate in it.

"I’ve run tournaments for years, and when I got here, there was nothing here," the former UL and LSU coach said. "I mean, we (USL at the time) was 0-11 against directional schools.

"But the community is just incredible. This is one of the most incredible communities I have ever been involved in. They support everything, they get involved and they have a good time. I wouldn’t do this anywhere else."

The eight-team field will consist of three teams that won a conference championship last season. Texas won the Big 12 title, Georgia won the SEC, and the host Ragin’ Cajuns won the Sun Belt.

Other teams coming to Lafayette include LSU, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest and TCU. Six of the eight teams that will participate in the Cajun Tennis Classic were in last season’s NCAA Tournament.

UL head coach Mark Jeffery feels the tournament is a game-changer for the Cajuns in terms of visibility and recruiting. Coming off of an SBC title, the opportunity to face top-tier programs is something he and the team can get excited about.

"I couldn’t be happier," Jeffery said. "This is going to elevate our program ten-fold. I really see establishing relationships with these coaches, some of the best in the nation, is going to help us down the road with scheduling, and for our guys to play against these guys immediately is going to be fantastic.

"This tournament has elevated us recruiting-wise to be the leader in the Sun Belt Conference. I think this is going to separate us from some of the other teams."