The University of Alberta tennis teams showed off their depth and discipline at the Prairie Regionals against teams from UBC Okanagan Heat and the University of Calgary Dinos.

The Feb. 17-19 tournament began on Friday night with some fifty cheering fans on the sidelines at the Saville Tennis Centre.  More than 400 tuned in to watch on the Tennis Alberta LIVE stream.   The UofA toppled the UBC Okanagan Heat in doubles and singles matches that evening.

A close match between Ryan Townsend (UofA) and Michael Bitcon (Okanagan’s player-coach) featured Bitcon’s forehand power against Townsend’s consistency and defense.  After Townsend stole the first set 7-6 , Bitcon’s energy dropped, and Townsend cruised to a 6-2 second set victory for the match.

The UofA’s momentum continued on Saturday against  the University of Calgary Dinos.  In the end, the UofA  became once again the top university team in the prairie region, for both men and women.

Westerns are Next for the University of Alberta Tennis Teams

Next the University of Alberta will compete for the Canadian University Western Championships title on March 3.  The opponent is the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.  The winning teams (one men’s, one women’s team) will represent Western Canada at the Canadian University Championships in Toronto/Montreal during the final weekend of the Rogers Cup.

The Pandas are hoping to defend their 2017 national title.  The Bears won the national title in 2016, so 2018 may be the year for men’s AND women’s national titles for the University of Alberta.  But first, the Western Championships on March 3.  Coach Russ Sluchinski expects a competitive weekend.

We played them (University of British Columbia) in November in Vancouver and both the singles and doubles matches were very competitive, so we know we will require a great effort from the entire team to have a chance to win. We are hoping the home court advantage will give us a slight edge that will help us come through with a victory.

University of Alberta Men’s Tennis Team Coach:  Russ Sluchinski

Tennis Alberta (see their Facebook) has video of several matches from the Prairie Regional tournament that were streamed live during the event.  Match results are also available on Tennis Canada’s 2018 Western University League page.

The videos include players Jeff James and Ryan Townsend (UofA Bears), and Siddarth Venkatesh, Brandon Fung and Michael Bitcon (UBC Okanagan Heat).

And Kistina Sanjevice and Alina Jura (UofA Pandas), and Kelsea Gorzo and Maja Kragonvic (UofC Dinos) are also captured on the recorded livestream.

University of Alberta Top Players Ranked Nationally
The University of Alberta men’s tennis team is led by Jeff James and Ryan Townsend, ranked #2 and #3 in Alberta, and currently #33 and #34 nationally.  On the women’s team, Kristina Sanjevic is ranked 2nd in Alberta and 109 in Canada.  The UofA team roster includes twenty-one men and women, all university students playing out of the Saville Tennis Centre.
 University of Alberta Tennis Team Coaches

Russ Sluchinski, Head Coach
Corey Stewart, Head Coach
Ivan Quintero, Assistant Coach
Carson Bell, Assistant Coach
Joan Cannon, Assistant Coach
Gurmeet Dhillon, Team Trainer

University tennis is fun to watch.  Its energy and team dynamic has a Fed Cup/Davis Cup feel, without the drums!  The upcoming March 3 western finals promise good tennis in a fun environment.  With the University of Alberta favoured, local fans will hopefully be rewarded with a home team victory.  Good luck to the Bears and Pandas!