The much anticipated move to Conference USA gives Mean Green tennis one final year in the Sun Belt, but it doesn't change a whole lot for the already nationally ranked North Texas tennis team going forward.
Yes, it is no secret that the top of Conference USA tennis is currently stronger than the Sun Belt, and with the two best Belt teams making the move over, it promises to get even better.
"We are very excited to be making the move to C-USA as an athletic department, but the fact of the matter is the way we run this program won't change dramatically," said head coach Sujay Lama. "We already play a national schedule including numerous nationally-ranked programs and that won't change with the move."
The current configuration of C-USA tennis allows the teams to schedule whomever they want in any and all of their available competition dates, very similar to the Sun Belt. So North Texas, who already plays five-time C-USA Champion Tulsa on a yearly basis and Rice frequently, could continue those rivalries without picking up the bottom tier teams in the conference.
With the Mean Green and FIU making the transition to Conference USA, there will be five different programs that have taken home a conference crown in the last seven years.
"When you have competition, you tend to rise up to the challenge," added Lama. "I think having several teams in the conference that are nationally ranked and have that conference-championship experience in their past that compete against each other can only make not only us better, but the rest of the conference as well."
The Golden Hurricane of Tulsa has won five of the last six C-USA titles, with Rice taking the 2006 championship and the Green Wave of Tulane winning it three of the previous four years. The last four SBC Champions will be making their way to the new digs as well in North Texas (2012, 2010) and FIU (2011, 2009).
Three of these teams, No. 25 Tulsa, No. 39 Rice and No. 56 North Texas, will kick-off the NCAA Tournament this week.