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Men's Tennis: Cajuns gear up to host tennis classic + press conference video

Bruce Brown, The Advertiser, Aug. 25, 2017

Click here for video of press conference.

Arthur Libaud has fond memories of his first action in the John Breaux Cajun Tennis Classic. After all, he won the consolation singles title as a freshman.

The next year, not so much, as illness took him out of action mid-match.

So the junior Ragin' Cajun from Les Chenevieres, France, is seeking a return to form when the Classic returns to the Culotta Tennis Center on Sept. 22-24.

Libaud and his UL teammates will face elite performers from No. 11 Texas, No. 15 Oklahoma State, No. 23 South Florida, No. 24 Kentucky, No. 32 Texas Tech, No. 42 Georgia State and No. 61 LSU in the event, recognized as one of the top collegiate events in the country.

“I remember my first match being difficult,” Libaud said of his freshman debut in 2015. “I was nervous. I probably should have beat the guy I played. Coach (Mark Jeffrey) helped me to relax and I did better the rest of the tournament.”

More: John Breaux Tennis Classic attracts top players

That tournament finished indoors at Red Lerille's, with Libaud winning consolation and Lafayette native and LSU star Jordan Daigle taking the main draw.

“The tournament really helps us,” Libaud said. “Once we play in it, we're good to go the whole year. It's sort of like a pro tournament, with a lot of good players here.

“And, we have an advantage in the heat and humidity. We're acclimated. The players who come here can't get used to it in two or three days.”

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A scary combination of allergies and asthma took Libaud out of last year's tournament, but he feels ready for the 2017 edition.

“I played nearly every day this summer,” he said. “Might have taken one week off. I played in 12 or 13 tournaments, won three and made two (other) finals. I like to play a lot.

“In France, it was 70 degrees, and it was really dry this summer. Perfect conditions to play.”

It won't quite be perfect at the Classic, but it will be another perfect opportunity for the Cajuns to test themselves against some of the best in the college game.

Only once has a Cajun won the main draw, when Tarek El Sakka triumphed some 35 years ago when it was the Rolex Classic.

The best the current Cajuns have managed is the doubles semifinals and Libaud's consolation victory.

“I think Arthur is primed to win it,” Jeffrey said. “He played well all summer. We have others playing well, but we haven't determined who's going to play in it this year.

“It's a great opportunity for us to play good teams early in the year on our courts. It does unbelievable things for our program. Fans who come out will see the strongest tennis you can see in the state of Louisiana.”

"This is the tournament everybody talks about,” said assistant coach Luc Godin, who returned to the UL program from Arkansas. “It's an elite event. Not everyone makes the cut.”

“We get unbelievable support at home,” Libaud said. “It's a chance to show what we can do.”

* * * * *

Announcement below posted on www.ragincajuns.com on Aug. 24, 2017

Tennis: Louisiana Men's Tennis Hold Press Conference At Moss Motors


LAFAYETTE – The Louisiana men's tennis team was hosted by Moss Motors today, for a press conference promoting the upcoming John Breaux Cajun Classic which will be hosted at Cajun Courts on Sept. 22-24.
This season the Cajuns will welcome to Lafayette a collection of top talent from across the nation, with seven teams finishing ranked nationally in the top 65 last season.
Those teams include Texas (No. 11); Oklahoma State (No. 15); South Florida (No. 23); Kentucky (No. 29); Texas Tech (No. 32); Georgia State (No. 42) and LSU (No. 61) providing what should be a great weekend of tennis at the Cajuns Courts and Culotta Tennis Center.

Sharon Moss (Owner and CEO of Moss Motors)
On Event:
"This event started many years ago, and the event has produced 20 professional grand slam winners, five ATP top 20 singles players, 12 NCAA champions, four number one ranked professional doubles, two American Olympic gold doubles winners and two ITA future hall of fame players and coaches.  So, it's a very prestigious event we're holding here.  Some of the best teams in the nation will be out here to play."
Robert Daigle (Member of RCAF Board of Directors)
On Event:       
"I'm old enough to remember 30 years ago when the tournament first came to Lafayette, and what a tournament it was.  To have it resurrected a few years back was a dream for a lot of folks, including myself.  It's one of the two most significant collegiate tennis tournaments in the fall season.  And that's a huge thing for the town of Lafayette, Louisiana University and the Ragin' Cajuns tennis team."
On What Makes It Special:
"My son Jordan, who played for the university down the road called LSU, won the singles tournament a few years ago here, which was a special moment for our family and for him.  So, this tournament is special for many reasons and it's very near and dear to my heart."
Mark Jeffrey (Louisiana Men's Tennis Head Coach)
On Event Being Put Together:
"The John Breaux Tennis Classic is a unique event and it's very special, since it's 100 percent local.  All the people who give to this event all have businesses here and they've given their backs to get this thing going again.  The thing this tournament does is bring in $250 thousand into the local economy which is great because we can give back to the people who help put this thing together every year.  And I'd like to thank John Breaux, who couldn't be here today, he was a player here at Louisiana and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Louisiana last season, and I can't thank him enough for everything he does."
On How Event Helps Grow the Sport:
"Through the Kids Day, an event we hold along with the classic, is that the sport of tennis is introduced to the kids of Acadiana for the first time.  And what goes with that is that the kids in the region get to see first class tennis at the world class level for the first time.  For these kids to have dreams and to wake up and tell themselves that they want and can do that, they get the opportunity to see the best tennis they'll see in the state of Louisiana.  For the kids to get out and see these guys play really reignites that dream, and they go home and say to their parents look what I watched today.  That gives so much back to these kids and it rejuvenates them, and there's not a price you can put on that."
On What the Event Does for the Ragin' Cajuns Program:
"The tournament has done and continues to do unbelievable things for the Ragin' Cajuns tennis program and it really highlights us for that entire week.  We've come from it being a local tournament to putting it on the national stage with ESPN3 and COX broadcasting the event which is an amazing thing as well." 
Arthur Libaud (Jr., Member of the Louisiana Tennis Team)
On Event:
"I think it's a great opportunity to play at home which is unbelievable for us and we've gotten so much support from everyone.  The organization of the tournament is more like a pro event and not a collegiate event.  For the entire team, it's a great chance for us to show what we can do and to play the best players in the area.  It helps us a lot for the coming season."
Luc Godin (Louisiana Men's Associate Head Coach)
On Event:
"This place is special to me and I was here before and we had great time.  I'm excited to be back here at Louisiana.  It's a tournament that everyone talks about around the country, and it's a prestige tournament that kids train hard all summer long to have the chance of getting picked by their coach.  The draw is elite and not many kids gets a chance to be a part of it.  Some kids compete for three years with the hope that as a senior they'd be good enough to make the cut and make our tournament."
On Meaning of Event:
"As a young inspiring player, I would follow this tournament in tennis magazine's, and I remember dreaming that one day maybe I'd be a part of this tournament.  So, it's a special occasion and great things like this you can't do them without help.  And it's overwhelming how much this community is willing to help and get involved."